US President Barack Obama
said on Friday he understands why some US lawmakers want to "look tough" on Iran
but insisted now is not the time to impose new sanctions on Tehran while it is set to negotiate over a long-term nuclear deal with world powers.
"There is no need for new sanctions legislation, not yet," Obama told a White House news conference a day after a group of US senators introduced a bill to impose new punitive measures on Iran if it breaks an interim nuclear deal reached last month in Geneva.
Obama, who has warned that new sanctions could scuttle the negotiations, said that "if we are serious" about seeking a final nuclear agreement, the United States has to act in ways that do not increase Iranian suspicions.
On Thursday, Obama said he would veto legislation imposing new sanctions on Tehran over its nuclear program, , after a group of senators introduced such a bill. "If it were to pass, the president will veto it," White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters.
The bill attempts to secure automatic sanctions should Iran break the deal, a key Israeli demand, and promises Israel
support if it feels the need to launch such an attack.
"If the government of Israel is compelled to take military action in legitimate self-defense against Iran's nuclear weapon program, the United States government should stand with Israel," the bill states. It calls for "diplomatic, military and economic support" to Israel in such an eventuality.
Senators from both parties introduced the legislation on Thursday, despite appeals from the White House, which wants to avoid implementing new penalties while the US is holding nuclear negotiations with the Islamic republic.
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