December 20, 2013 | Quote

Obama Issues Rare Veto Threat on Iran Bill

The White House issued a rare veto threat in response to a bipartisan Senate bill that would slap Iran with new sanctions if it violates an interim deal reached last month to curb its nuclear program.

The threat sets up a standoff in the new year between President Barack Obama and more than two dozen Senate Democrats and Republicans who introduced the legislation on Thursday. The challenge to Mr. Obama is particularly stark because half of the lawmakers sponsoring the new bill are from his own party.

The bill could also imperil Mr. Obama's efforts to reach a diplomatic end to the decadelong standoff over Iran's nuclear program, which administration officials hope will be a signature achievement of his second term.

“Iran cannot walk away from negotiations without paying a heavy economic price,” said Mark Dubowitz, who advised Congress on the new sanctions as an expert at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a conservative Washington think tank. “Unless Iranian leaders believe that they can rescue their failing economy through nuclear escalation, which is always possible given the Supreme Leader's intransigence, their best alternative remains a diplomatic deal.”

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Iran Iran Sanctions