Despite White House opposition, Senate introduces bill calling for global boycott of Iran's oil exports, blacklisting its mining, engineering, construction • Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Zarif: We can resume 20% enrichment in less than 24 hours.
Yoni Hirsch, Yori Yalon and Shlomo Cesana
U.S. President Barack Obama
Photo credit: AFP
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif
Photo credit: AP
Twenty-six senators, including 13 Democrats, defied U.S. President Barack Obama's request on Thursday by introducing a bill with the goal of imposing new sanctions on Iran. Obama had asked the Senate to shelve the bill in an effort to safeguard chances of reaching a final nuclear deal with Iran.
The bill was presented despite strong White House opposition, but it is not yet clear if and when it will be voted upon. The proposal includes a global boycott of Iranian oil exports within a year, as well as the blacklisting of the country's mining, engineering and construction industries if Iran violates the interim agreement or does not agree to a final deal in the allotted six-month time frame.
The legislation was introduced by Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) and Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.). The draft law is meant as "an insurance policy to defend against Iranian deception," Kirk said.
White House spokesman Jay Carney said he does not believe the bill will be enacted, nor does he wish it to be.
"We don't want to see actions that would proactively undermine American diplomacy," he said. "If [the bill] were to pass, the president would veto it."
The Obama administration has little to be concerned about, as the bill can only be voted on in January, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), considered an ally of Obama's, can prevent it from being approved.
Meanwhile in Iran, as preparations are made for the upcoming round of nuclear talks with the world powers, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said, "The structure of our nuclear program has been maintained and the 20 percent enrichment can be resumed in less than 24 hours."
Zarif said he believed it was possible to reach a final agreement, but remarked in a Press TV interview, "The statement that 'all options are on the table' is an outdated statement because all options are not on the table, at least for the countries that claim to be law-abiding."
President Shimon Peres met on Thursday with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi at the Israeli presidential residence, where they discussed the Iranian nuclear issue. Peres stressed the need to continue sanctions, saying, "We must maintain the diplomatic pressure; ensure the sanctions regime remains effective to force Iran to comply with the inspections and limitations which the international community demands."