Kerry warns fresh Iran sanctions could scuttle nuclear talks

US Secretary of State John Kerry speaks with reporters at the U.S. Capitol before testifying to the Senate Banking and Urban Affairs Committee 13 November 2013 Mr Kerry said the US and other powers had talked to Iran: "more in 30 hours than we have in those prior 30 years"

Secretary of State John Kerry has told US lawmakers any new sanctions against Iran would risk ruining talks over Tehran's nuclear programme.

He told a Senate banking committee that the US might lose negotiating partners if it imposed economic penalties.

The panel has been considering a fresh package but legislators are divided on the measure.

Mr Kerry has told the BBC that Iran and world powers had come "extremely close" to a deal at the weekend.

Before Wednesday's closed-door meeting with senators, Washington's top diplomat told reporters: "What we're asking everybody to do is calm down, look hard at what can be achieved and what the realities are."

None of the differences between the so-called P5+1 - the US, UK, France, Russia and China plus Germany - and Iran over its nuclear programme are big enough to prevent agreement, Mr Kerry has previously said.

Moving too quickly?

With the negotiators due to meet again on 20 November, both Republicans and Democrats have argued that a new round of sanctions targeting the oil and banking industries of Iran could serve as a bargaining chip in the talks.

The P5+1 has considered offering relief to Tehran on some sanctions in exchange for nuclear concessions.

Negotiations are expected to resume later this month in Geneva.

The Obama administration has offered Iran some of its frozen overseas assets if the country agrees to a deal.

But it has insisted that the strictest restrictions should remain in place until Iran conclusively proves it is not trying to assemble nuclear weapons. Iran says it is just a civilian energy programme.

Some US legislators believe the White House is moving too quickly.

In a separate hearing, several House legislators said the US should take a harder line with Iran.

"The Iranian regime hasn't paused its nuclear programme," said Representative Ed Royce, a Republican.

"Why should we pause our sanctions efforts as the administration is pressuring Congress to do?"

The BBC's Capitol Hill producer Suzanne Kianpour says that, according to senior administration officials, Mr Kerry - as well as Vice-President Joe Biden - will continue to shuttle back and forth to Congress to lobby lawmakers against proposing new sanctions.

More on This Story

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites

More US & Canada stories

RSS

Features & Analysis

  • Martin Gardner as a young manThink hard

    Was this man the world's greatest puzzle master?


  • Carved pumpkinTrick or treat

    What did a riot at a pumpkin festival show about race in US?


  • A woman puts on a surgical mask during hospital Ebola training in Alabama.'Dark continent'

    Is prejudice fuelling Ebola outbreak hysteria in the US?


  • Oscar de la Renta and Oprah WinfreyIn pictures

    The life and work of Oscar de la Renta


Elsewhere on the BBC

  • FutureThe future is now

    Get the latest updates and biggest ideas from BBC Future’s World-Changing Ideas Summit

Programmes

  • Smart glassesClick Watch

    Smart spectacles go into battle – the prototypes looking to take on Google Glass

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.