Washington DC – “How we proceed with sanctions depends upon on how the engagement works,” Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told Congress Wednesday.
“Until we have tested, within the time period set forth by the president, where we think this engagement is going, I am not sure that adding new unilateral sanctions is really that helpful,” Clinton told lawmakers. She added, “At some point it might very well be.”
Congress is currently considering legislation that would expand unilateral sanctions and target companies exporting refined petroleum to Iran. The Iran Refined Petroleum Sanctions Act has 122 cosponsors in the House and 51 in the Senate.
Clinton called sanctions a “powerful tool” but cautioned that if new sanctions are deemed necessary by the administration, a multilateral approach would likely be more effective.
“We already have a lot of sanctions on the books but the most effective ones are the ones that we have been able to persuade a lot of our partners to pursue as well,” she said.
Clinton told lawmakers that engaging Iran will make other countries like China and Russia more willing to agree to sanctions if those talks fail.
President Obama has ruled out deadlines for diplomacy but said he would like U.S.-Iran talks to show progress by the end of the year.
Editor’s Note: The National Iranian American Council is opposed to new sanctions against Iran, arguing in part that imposing sanctions at this time would undermine diplomacy. In testimony to the House Financial Services Subcommittee, NIAC President Trita Parsi told lawmakers “After a decade-and-a-half of failed economic pressure and three decades of hostility, it is not sanctions or divestments that deserve another chance. It’s diplomacy and the opportunity to use the leverage that existing sanctions provide in the context of a negotiation that should be given the space and time to succeed.”