|Obama takes tough line against Iran sanctions to Congress||
TEHRAN – President Barack Obama took his hard line against new sanctions over Iran's nuclear program directly to U.S. lawmakers on Tuesday by pledging in his annual State of the Union address to veto any legislation that threatens talks with Tehran.
According to Reuters, Obama commented on the six-month interim agreement reached between Iran and world powers in Geneva last November and said, "The sanctions that we put in place helped make this opportunity possible. But let me be clear: if this Congress sends me a new sanctions bill now that threatens to derail these talks, I will veto it," Obama said in his speech in the House of Representatives chamber.
"We must give diplomacy a chance to succeed," he said.
He reassured Israel that the U.S. will always be at its side, adding that all options - including the military option against Iran’s nuclear program - were on the table if need be.
Tehran rejects allegations that it is seeking the capability to produce nuclear arms, insisting its nuclear program is limited to peaceful purposes such as the generation of electricity.
Fifty-nine of the 100 U.S. senators, including 16 of Obama's fellow Democrats, co-sponsored a bill that would impose new restrictions on Iran if talks on a permanent deal falter.
But Iran has warned it will walk away from negotiations on its nuclear program if the bill becomes law. The measure is now stalled in the Senate amid expectations the chamber's Democratic leaders will not allow a vote.
Supporters claim the bill would give the U.S. the upper hand during the negotiations. "The Menendez-Kirk bill is an insurance policy against Iran's development of nuclear weapons and ensures a process for the peaceful dismantlement of Iran's nuclear infrastructure," Illinois Republican Senator Mark Kirk claimed in a statement after Obama's speech.
"These negotiations will be difficult. They may not succeed," he said, adding his administration was "clear-eyed" about mistrust "that cannot be washed away" between Washington and Tehran.
“These negotiations don't rely on trust; any long-term deal we agree to must be based on verifiable action.”
"If John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan could negotiate with the Soviet Union, then surely a strong and confident America can negotiate with less powerful adversaries today," Obama said.
Obama promised to support more sanctions if Iran backs away from the talks.
But if the negotiations succeed, he said, Iran could take "an important step to rejoin the community of nations.”
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