White House hedges on veto for sanctions bill

A White House official on Monday said it is too early to say whether President Obama would veto a potential bill ratcheting up sanctions against Iran.

White House deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes said a new round of sanctions could complicate diplomacy between the countries and cause division with U.S. negotiating partners.

“Well, we're not there yet ... because there's not a bill that's been passed,” Rhodes said on MSNBC when asked about vetoing new sanctions passed by Congress.

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Rhodes reiterated Obama’s statement over the weekend that Congress could quickly pass a new round of sanctions in six months if the talks with Iran fail.

“And I have no doubt that Congress could pass these sanctions very quickly, so we don't see the need to do it now during the length of this agreement, because, frankly, that could cause divisions within our P5+1 coalition,” he said. “It could complicate this diplomacy. Let's keep those sanctions as leverage if the Iranians cheat or if we don't get a deal at the end of the six months.”

An agreement reached over the weekend temporarily eases some sanctions on Iran for six months in exchange for the country capping its nuclear stockpiles and agreeing to outside inspections, among other provisions.

Senators from both parties — including Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) — criticized the Iran deal and indicated they would pursue sanctions that would begin in six months’ time.
 
In remarks after the deal was announced Saturday night, Obama warned that new sanctions have the potential to unravel the agreement.

“Now is not the time to move forward on new sanctions. Doing so would derail this promising first step, alienate us from our allies and risk unraveling the coalition that enabled our sanctions to be enforced in the first place,” he said.