The White House has warned the US Congress not to impose any new sanctions on Iran, saying that such a move could jeopardize the ongoing diplomatic efforts.
“For Congress to add additional sanctions before this diplomatic window could be pursued would undermine our credibility about the goal of these sanctions,” White House Deputy Press Secretary Josh Earnest said on Tuesday.
“We’re not sanctioning just for the sake of sanctions, and we’re not sanctioning the Iranians specifically to punish them. We have these sanctions in place to pressure Iran to… consider and pursue a diplomatic option. That diplomatic opportunity has presented itself, and we should pursue it,” Earnest added.
Iran and the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council — the United States, Britain, Russia, France and China — plus Germany, sealed an interim deal in Geneva on Sunday morning to pave the way for the full resolution of the West’s decade-old dispute with Iran over the country’s nuclear energy program.
In exchange for Iran agreeing to limit certain aspects of its nuclear activities, the US and its allies have agreed to lift some of the existing sanctions and offer access to a portion of the revenue that Tehran has been denied as a result of the sanctions.
Earnest’s warning message to Capitol Hill came after a number of Republican and Democratic lawmakers called for tougher sanctions against Iran.
A number of US lawmakers in both chambers had expressed skepticism about the interim agreement, with US Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid saying the Senate might pursue stronger sanctions against Iran despite the nuclear deal.
However, on Tuesday, US President Barack Obama strongly defended the nuclear agreement with Iran, pushing back against the criticism from Israel and Congress.