President Barack Obama strongly warned Congress against new Iran sanctions Friday, saying that additional penalties could derail ongoing talks.
“Congress needs to show patience,” Obama said during a joint press conference with British Prime Minister David Cameron. “I respectfully request them to hold off for a few months to see if we have the possibility of solving a big problem without resorting potentially to war.”
Obama said the likelihood that ongoing nuclear talks with Iran would be scuttled if Congress were to introduce new sanctions legislation is ‘very high,’ and that he would veto any such legislation that reaches his desk.
“I will make this argument to the American people as to why I’m doing so,” Obama warned.
The British prime minister said that he has called US senators to avoid introducing any new sanctions, saying that existing sanctions have led to the ongoing talks with Iran over its nuclear program, “and those talks at least have a prospect of success.”
If new sanctions were to be introduced, Iran would be able to walk away from the talks, saying “that the reason that they ended negotiations was because the United States was operating in bad faith and blew up the deal,” Obama argued.
“And there would be some sympathy to that view around the world, which means that the sanctions that we have in place now would potentially fray because imposing these sanctions are a hardship on a number of countries around the world,” he added.
Negotiators have until March to reach a political agreement, with a final deal deadline set for the end of June.
The US and Iran are currently engaged in bilateral talks in Geneva set to end Saturday. Multilateral talks with the full P5+1 group of world powers will begin the following day.
The group includes the US, China, France, the UK, Russia and Germany.
Two deadlines have already passed without the comprehensive accord sought by the parties.