On Capitol Hill on Wednesday, Secretary of State John Kerry urged lawmakers to “calm down” over imposing new sanctions on Iran as negotiations are still ongoing and warned that additional sanctions could threaten the progress made in talks.
“We have all the opportunity of negotiations to make certain this is a peaceful program that can threaten nobody and what we’re asking everybody to do is calm down, look hard at what can be achieved and what the realities are,” Kerry told reporters before a closed briefing with the Senate Banking Committee.
“We now are negotiating, and the risk is that if Congress were to unilaterally move to raise sanctions, it could break faith with those negotiations and actually stop them and break them apart,” Kerry said.
Kerry’s warning comes as lawmakers consider placing new sanctions on Iran. The White House is asking lawmakers to let diplomacy run its course with nuclear talks set to resume in Geneva next week.
But Kerry, who traveled to Geneva last week when the prospect for a nuclear deal was high, did note that if talks fall through, he will return to Capitol Hill to ask for more sanctions on Iran.
“If this doesn’t work, we reserve the right to dial back up the sanctions. I will be up here on the Hill asking for increased sanctions, and we always reserve the military option,” he said. “Let’s give them a few weeks, see if it works, and we have all of our options at our disposal.”
Vice President Joe Biden later joined Kerry to brief Senate Democratic leadership on the Iran negotiations.
Earlier in the day, President Obama phoned French President Francois Hollande to discuss ongoing Iran nuclear negotiations. In a readout of the call between the two leaders, the White House said the U.S. and France are in “full agreement” on the P5+1 proposal and strategy for the talks.