A bipartisan group of senators has defied the White House by introducing new Iran sanctions legislation Thursday that would increase pressure on Iran if it fails to meet its obligations under the interim deal agreed to last month.
Despite the administration's warnings that such a law would derail diplomacy with Iran, the Senate bill was introduced by Sen. Robert Menendez, the Democratic chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., and sponsored by 24 other Senators.
It would require further reductions in Iranian oil sales and additional penalties to the Iranian economy, in its engineering, mining and construction sectors, according to a statement released by Kirk's office.
Mark Dubowitz, executive director of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, who has counseled members of Congress on toughening sanctions on Iran, says there's frustration on Capitol Hill over recent comments made by Iranian officials about wanting to produce higher-grade nuclear fuel for submarines and over details of the interim deal that emerged since it was inked.
According to Iran's Fars News Agency, Iranian lawmakers on Saturday declared they are considering a bill to require the government to produce uranium fuel that is 60% pure, to power submarines and ships. Weapons grade uranium is 90% pure.
The measure is under consideration "Given the method that the other negotiating side (the US in particular) has adopted during the nuclear negotiations," Seyed Mehdi Moussavinejad, a member of the Iranian parliament's Energy Commission, told Fars.
The most concerning thing about interim deal is that it does not address Iran's ongoing work on the military aspect of its nuclear program, including design and testing of warheads, ballistic missiles and nuclear triggers, Dubowitz said.
"Iran gets six more months to do all those things to perfect the nuclear military side of their program and we gain one more month of breakout capacity," he said.