New sanctions needed in case Iran nuclear talks falter, key Senate Democrat says

A top Senate Democrat said he is wary of lifting sanctions on Iran and struck a skeptical tone toward the new diplomatic deal aimed at that nation’s nuclear program.

Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), head of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, criticized the agreement Sunday, saying Iran received too much relief from economic sanctions in exchange for its limited concessions on its nuclear program. He emphasized that the international community would have to track Iran’s adherence to the temporary agreement closely and was reluctant to trim back sanctions until Iran has terminated its nuclear program

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“In my view, this agreement did not proportionately reduce Iran's nuclear program for the relief it is receiving. Given Iran's history of duplicity, it will demand ongoing, on the ground verification,” he said in a statement. “Until Iran has verifiably terminated its illicit nuclear program, we should vigorously enforce existing sanctions.”

Under the deal struck after long diplomatic talks in Geneva, the international community agreed to lift some of the sanctions imposed on Iran in exchange for new limits and increased oversight over its nuclear efforts. The temporary agreement will serve as the basis for longer term talks over Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

However, Menendez said he still wanted to move forward with heightened sanctions on Iran, which could be prepared and ready for action should these talks falter or Iran violates the new deal.

"I expect that the forthcoming sanctions legislation to be considered by the Senate will provide for a six month window to reach a final agreement before imposing new sanctions on Iran, but will at the same time be immediately available should the talks falter or Iran fail to implement or breach the interim agreement,” he said.  

"It is my fervent hope that this interim agreement leads to a final agreement with Iran that will ensure that it cannot acquire nuclear weapons capability.”