“If certain members of Congress want the United States to take military action, they should be up front with the American public and say so,” National Security Council spokeswoman Bernadette Meehan said in a statement.
“Otherwise, it’s not clear why any member of Congress would support a bill that possibly closes the door on diplomacy and makes it more likely that the United States will have to choose between military options or allowing Iran’s nuclear program to proceed,” she added.
The warning came after 59 senators said they back the Iran sanctions bill, introduced by Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Robert Menendez and Senator Mark Kirk.
The proposed bill would impose new sanctions on Iran if Tehran breaks a nuclear agreement reached last November in Geneva.
“If Congress passes this bill, it will be proactively taking an action that will make diplomacy less likely to succeed,” Meehan said. “The American people have been clear that they prefer a peaceful resolution to this issue.”
The bill proposes boycotting Iranian oil exports and the blacklisting of Iran’s mining, engineering and construction industries.
The Senate bill also calls for “diplomatic, military and economic support” to Israel in case Tel Aviv decides to launch an attack against Iran’s nuclear energy program.
Meanwhile, the White House said President Barack Obama will veto the bill if it passes.
It is still unclear whether backers can put together the two-thirds majority in the 100-member Senate needed to override a veto by Obama.
Several important lobby groups, including the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, are working hard to build support for the measure, The Los Angeles Times reported.
The Obama administration has repeatedly stated that the passage of a new sanctions bill would not only violate the spirit, if not the letter, of the interim nuclear deal, it would also cast serious doubt on Washington’s “good faith” in negotiations.
Iran has warned that fresh US sanctions against the Islamic Republic will collapse the nuclear talks.