Corker concedes defeat on Iran sanctions

The top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee acknowledged Thursday that Congress is unlikely to buck President Obama and pass new sanctions on Iran.

Sen. Bob Corker (Tenn.) said the hawkish bipartisan rhetoric amounted to little more than a game of “rope-a-dope,” given Senate leaders’ reluctance to bring up sanctions legislation. The Obama administration has launched a full-scale effort to convince lawmakers and the public that passing new sanctions now would derail diplomatic talks and undermine international sanctions.

“I realize that we’re sort of going through a rope-a-dope here in the Senate and that we’re not actually going to do anything,” Corker said.

Corker made the remarks at a hearing during which Banking panel Chairman Tim Johnson (D-S.D.)made clear his intention to hold off indefinitely on new sanctions.

“I agree that the administration’s request for a diplomatic pause is reasonable,” Johnson said at the hearing with Undersecretary of State Wendy Sherman, who helped negotiate the initial, temporary agreement in Geneva last month. “We should not do anything counterproductive that might shatter Western unity on this issue — we should make sure that if the talks fail, it was Iran that caused their failure.”

Sherman used the hearing to reiterate the administration’s position that passing sanctions now — even ones that would kick in only if Iran reneges on its commitments or refuses a final deal — would undermine the interim agreement.

Sherman testified that “moving forward on new sanctions now would derail [a] promising and yet-to-be-tested first step … alienate us from our allies and risk unraveling the international cohesion that has proven so essential to ensuring our sanctions have the intended effect.”

By The Hill


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