White House works to delay Iran sanctions that could affect nuclear talks

The Washington Post reports: The Obama administration struggled Wednesday to head off new congressional sanctions that it fears could kill a proposed nuclear deal with Iran before it can be finalized.

During a visit to Capitol Hill, Secretary of State John F. Kerry and Vice President Biden faced strong skepticism, including from leading Democrats, who suggested the White House is being snookered by the Iranian leadership.

Kerry warned that although tough economic sanctions have worked as intended to push Iran to the bargaining table, piling on now could drive the country away.

“The risk is that if Congress were to unilaterally move to raise sanctions, it could break faith in those negotiations, and actually stop them and break them apart,” Kerry said before a closed session of the Senate Banking Committee. “What we’re asking everyone to do is calm down, look hard at what can be achieved and what the realities are.”

Afterward, Senate Republicans scoffed at the administration presentation. [Continue reading…]

Meanwhile, AFP reports: President Barack Obama’s top national security aide said Wednesday that France was “fully on board” with a proposed interim deal on freezing Iran’s nuclear program, ahead of a new round of talks in Geneva.

National Security Advisor Susan Rice made the comment after Obama spoke to French President Francois Hollande by phone and both men urged Iran to accept a deal presented by world powers.

“The French are fully on board,” Rice said at the Washington Ideas Forum sponsored by the Atlantic magazine and the Aspen Institute.

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