Senate GOP wants to block Obama from lifting Iran sanctions
Senate Republicans want to block President Obama from lifting sanctions against Iran over lingering concerns about possible military dimensions of the country's nuclear program.
 
Sen. Kelly AyotteKelly Ann AyotteThe Hill's Morning Report: Koch Network re-evaluating midterm strategy amid frustrations with GOP Audit finds US Defense Department wasted hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars US sends A-10 squadron to Afghanistan for first time in three years MORE (R-N.H.) has introduced legislation that would block lifting sanctions until after the administration handed over a wide-ranging report on military aspects of Iran's nuclear program and certified to Congress that any military-related activity tied to the program has ended. 
 
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The legislation — which is currently backed by 10 Republican senators including Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioHillicon Valley: Experts worry North Korea will retaliate with hacks over summit | FBI works to disrupt Russian botnet | Trump officials look to quell anger over ZTE | Obama makes case for tighter regs on tech Putting pressure on Trump, House passes bill barring government from doing business with ZTE The Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by PhRMA — Tensions mount for House Republicans MORE (Fla.) — would also require Congress to pass a joint resolution approving the sanctions relief. 
 
The proposal comes as the administration is preparing to lift sanctions against Iran as part of a deal on its nuclear program as early as January. The agreement was opposed by every Senate Republican. 
 
As part of a possible military dimension to Iran's nuclear program, Ayotte's proposal would also require that that the administration certify that Iran has ended any "research, development, testing, or fielding" of ballistic missiles that could carry a nuclear weapon. 
 
While the administration, and prominent Democrats, have argued that the nuclear agreement is separate from Iran's missile program, it's come under increased scrutiny in the wake of Iran missile tests since October. 
 
Sen. Robert MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezThe Hill's Morning Report: Can Trump close the deal with North Korea? Senate must save itself by confirming Mike Pompeo Poll: Menendez has 17-point lead over GOP challenger MORE (D-N.J.) pointed to the the tests as a key reason Obama should support extending the Iran Sanctions Act, which expires at the end of 2016. Senators are suggesting they'll try to move an extension of the law early next year. 
 
Both Republicans and Democrats have pushed President Obama to take a firmer response to the missile tests, with lawmakers arguing it could signal how the administration would handle violations of the nuclear deal.
 
Ayotte spearheaded a letter earlier this month, which was signed by 34 of her Republican colleagues, saying that the administration shouldn't lift sanctions against Iran in the wake of the tests. 
 
Meanwhile, 21 Senate Democrats are pushing Obama to act unilaterally or with European allies if the United Nations Security Council fails to reach an agreement on responding to Iran.