Sen. Lindsey Graham said Saturday that a vote on legislation providing for more stringent conditional sanctions against Iran would be among the first items of business for the 114th Congress.
The South Carolina Republican made his comments during a joint appearance Saturday in Israel with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
"I'm here to tell you, Mr. Prime Minister, that the Congress will follow your lead. In January of next year, there will be a vote on the Kirk-Menendez bill, bipartisan sanction legislation that says, if Iran walks away from the table, sanctions will be re-imposed; if Iran cheats regarding any deal that we enter to the Iranians, sanctions will be re-imposed," Graham said, according to an official transcript. "It is important to let the Iranians know that from an American point of view, sanctions are alive and well. So we will be following your counsel and advice. Congress will pursue sanctions for the bigger."
The legislation spearheaded by Sens. Mark S. Kirk, R-Ill., and Robert Menendez, D-N.J., would allow for tougher sanctions in the event talks about the Iranian nuclear program are not successful, providing additional tools to strengthen the U.S. negotiation position in the P5+1 talks with Iran.
But the Obama administration has cautioned that the measure itself could undermine the negotiations, and supporters of the sanctions bill were stymied in attempts to get a vote in the Democratic-led Senate of the 113th Congress. Graham also highlighted a legislative proposal to require a congressional vote in relation to any Iran agreement, should one be reached.
On another subject, Graham, who is expected to wield the gavel of the Appropriations subcommittee responsible for funding the State Department and foreign operations programs, delivered a warning to the United Nations about the parameters of discussions between the government of Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
"As to the United Nations and the Congress, you will see the following: There will be a violent pushback if there's any effort by the U.N. Security Council to set the terms of peace negotiations, avoiding direct talks," Graham said. "President Obama in 2011 said the United Nations was not the right venue when it came to discussing the peace process in reaching a two-state solution."
"I agree with what President Obama said in 2011. Any effort by the French, the Jordanians or anyone to avoid direct negotiations between the Israelis and the Palestinians over the peace process, anyone who tries to take this to the U.N. Security Council, there will be a violent backlash by the Congress that could include suspending funding to the United Nations," Graham added.
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