Iran hardliners push sanctions ahead of nuke talks deadline
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Sens. Mark KirkMark KirkHigh stakes as Trump heads to Hill Five things to watch for at Trump-Senate GOP meeting Giffords, Scalise highlight party differences on guns MORE (R-Ill.) and Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) are pushing a 10-year extension for an Iran sanctions bill days ahead of a deadline to finalize a long-term deal on the country's nuclear program.  

The two senators, who have been at the forefront of a push to increase sanctions against the Iranian government, want to extend the Iran Sanctions Act, currently set to expire at the end of next year, through 2026. 
 
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The move comes as officials from the United States, Iran and five other countries face a June 30 deadline to lock down a final agreement that would limit Iran's nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief. 
 
The legislation is the latest sign of increasing skepticism from lawmakers, particularly Republicans, who are lining up against a potential deal ahead of the deadline. 
 
The sanctions legislation targets Iran's nuclear and missile programs, as well as human rights violations and support for terrorism. The administration has argued that Iran's backing of terrorist groups or human rights abuses should be separate from the ongoing nuclear talks.
 
Thursday's legislation is the second time the senators have pushed the measure. They also tried to get it in the National Defense Authorization Act. Including the Iran sanctions proposal would have complicated an already tricky path to passage for the annual policy bill that faces a veto threat from the White House. 
 
Menendez suggested the administration should back the legislation if it is serious about its pledge to snap back sanctions if Iran violates a final deal. 
 
“If a deal is reached with Iran, it is critical that should Iran violate the terms of an agreement, severe penalties will follow and a forceful snapback of sanctions will occur,” the New Jersey Democrat said. “It stands to reason that if negotiators are serious about snapback, then they should support the immediate extension of the Iran Sanctions Act to ensure there is no question for Iran about the consequences of non-compliance."
 
Kirk added the administration must support the legislation if it "is serious about maintaining terrorism sanctions against Iran no matter what." 
 
The proposal also requires the Obama administration to tell Congress whether any money received through sanctions relief has gone toward supporting terrorism, creating nuclear weapons or missiles, or into the personal bank accounts of Iranian officials. 
 
Supporters of an agreement have pushed back against the Kirk-Menendez effort, with the National Iranian American Council arguing the measure would "short-circuit Congressional consideration of sanctions relief in a final nuclear agreement and risk complicating ongoing nuclear negotiations with Iran and derailing negotiations as they reach their endgame."