New Iran sanctions 'counter-productive': White House

AFP , Wednesday 27 Nov 2013

Obama
President Barack Obama leaves after speaking at the DreamWorks Animation studio in Glendale, Calif, Tuesday, Nov. 26, 2013 (Photo: AP)

The White House on Tuesday warned the US Congress against voting for fresh sanctions on Iran, saying they could potentially threaten ongoing diplomatic efforts to curb Tehran's nuclear program.

"For Congress to add additional sanctions before this diplomatic window could be pursued would undermine our credibility about the goal of these sanctions," said deputy White House spokesman Josh Earnest.

"We're not sanctioning just for the sake of sanctions and we're not sanctioning the Iranians specifically to punish them.

"We have these sanctions in place to pressure Iran to consider and pursue a diplomatic option. That diplomatic opportunity has presented itself and we should pursue it," he added as President Barack Obama arrived in Los Angeles for a visit.

Earnest's comments came after Iran and major powers reached an accord in Geneva on Sunday on the Islamic state's nuclear ambitions. Under the deal, Iran has agreed to freeze certain aspects of its nuclear program in exchange for an easing of crippling sanctions.

Obama on Monday defended his administration's approach to Iran following criticism of the nuclear deal from Republican rivals and key ally Israel.

Both Republican and Democrat lawmakers have said Congress should press for tougher sanctions against Iran if Tehran does not respect the nuclear deal strick in Geneva.

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