WASHINGTON – During a hearing today, U.S. Senator Bob Corker, R-Tenn., ranking member of the Foreign Relations Committee, pressed the Obama administration for clarity regarding sanctions on Iran as the U.S. pursues negotiations to end Iran’s nuclear weapons program.
“I do believe the sanctions that we’ve put in place have created this moment. And I do know that the administration, in fairness, opposed some of those sanctions. And we had to sort of push the administration to the table. And yet, I will say the administration now is trying to take advantage of those. So I hope that together through intelligent testimony and thoughtfulness, I hope we’ll move ahead in a fashion that shows a real strategy, that calls Congress to help push these negotiations along and push to ensure that what Iran does is real, it’s not just talk,” said Corker in his opening statement. “And I look forward to this committee and the Banking Committee acting in unison in a way that produces a result here, which is what all of us want to see.”
Asked by Senator Corker what additional steps Congress should take, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman said the Obama administration would support additional sanctions if Iran fails to offer a verifiable plan for ending its nuclear weapons program when talks begin in Geneva in two weeks.
“We do believe it would helpful for you all to at least allow this meeting to happen on the 15th and 16th of October before moving forward to consider those new sanctions,” said Sherman. “I want to be able to say to Iran…if you do not come on the 15th and 16th with that substantive plan that is real and verifiable, our Congress will take action and we will support them to do so.”
Corker also noted the importance of Iran’s renunciation of terrorism, which is also a requirement under U.S. law in order to lift existing sanctions.
“So I know that you’re trying to negotiate some relief relative to the sanctions. But the fact is the way the sanctions law reads, they’ve got to not only dismantle their nuclear program, but they also have to renounce terrorism. And I just wonder how those negotiations are going simultaneously to these others,” said Corker.