A Senate committee will decide after a hearing from Secretary of State John Kerry on Wednesday whether to move ahead with legislation to strengthen economic sanctions on Iran to pressure it to end its nuclear program.
New sanctions would be a challenge to the White House, which opposes stronger sanctions because it says such a move may anger the Iranians and prompt them to end negotiations.
Members of the Senate Banking Committee were to be briefed on negotiations with Iran by the State Department on Wednesday afternoon. Committee Chairman Tim Johnson, D-S.D., was to make a decision on whether to press ahead with sanctions legislation after the briefing, according to a committee aide who would not speak publicly because he was not authorized to do so.
"No one is going to believe that (military) option is still on the table," after Obama backed off his stated intention of bombing Syria over its use of chemical weapons against its own people, said Mark Dubowitz, executive director of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.
"Now the administration wants to take sanctions off the table, so coercive diplomacy is off table."