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Congress Backs Off Iran Sanctions After Veto Threat

U.S. President Barack Obama threatened to veto fresh sanctions on Iran during his State of the Union address on January 28.
U.S. President Barack Obama appears to have prevailed, for now, in his campaign to stop Congress from imposing new sanctions against Iran while a diplomatic initiative on Tehran’s nuclear program is under way.

Obama announced in his State of the Union address on January 28 that he would veto any legislation imposing fresh sanctions against Iran while negotiations on a permanent nuclear agreement are given a chance.

Obama also said he would lead a campaign for sanctions if a permanent nuclear agreement is not reached soon.

Since Obama’s speech, several Democratic senators who had backed a bipartisan sanctions bill have publicly stepped back from the legislation, saying that now is not the time for fresh sanctions.

The United States and other Western powers fear Iran is trying to secretly build nuclear weapons.

Tehran denies the charges, insisting that its controversial nuclear program is only for the peaceful civilian purposes of generating nuclear power and conducting medical research.

This month, a six-month temporary agreement negotiated in November by the P5+1 group (permanent UN Security Council members Britain, China, France, Russia, and the United States, plus Germany) went into effect.

Under the temporary agreement, Iran has agreed to cut back on uranium enrichment and allow further inspections of its nuclear facilities in exchange for a partial lifting of international sanctions.

Based on reporting by Reuters, AP, and AFP.