House panel wants more Iran sanctions despite election of 'moderate'

Iran's newly elected president, Hassan Rouhani, was the country's chief nuclear negotiator in 2003-2005 when Iran struck a deal with the European Union to suspend enrichment as chief nuclear. The Obama administration applauded Iranian voters' “courage” after his election last month and sent a message that the United States “remains ready to engage the Iranian government directly in order to reach a diplomatic solution that will fully address the international community’s concerns about Iran’s nuclear program.”

Lawmakers are skeptical.

In the letter, they pointed out that Rouhani, during a 90-minute press conference after his election, said the decade-old deal to suspend low levels of enrichment belonged to an era that's “behind us.”

“There appears nothing moderate' about his nuclear policies, which are a continuation of the policies that have been roundly opposed by the international community,” they wrote. “Moreover, decisions about Iran’s nuclear program and foreign policy rest mainly in the hands of Iran’s Supreme Leader Khamene’i. Khamene’i has recently reiterated his view that Iran has no reason to normalize relations with the United States.”

The letter was signed by all but one of the panel's 46 members. Only Del. Eni Faloemavaga (D-American Samoa) did not join his colleagues.

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