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Defying White House, senators unveil new Iran sanctions bill

The debate over whether to impose new sanctions on Iran is dividing Congress as a top Democratic senator unveiled legislation that would punish the country if it violates an interim nuclear deal.

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Democratic Senator Robert Menendez, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has led calls for further sanctions on Iran despite a recent nuclear deal. (Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images)

Defying the White House, a group of senators unveiled legislation Thursday that would impose new sanctions on Iran if it violates terms of an interim nuclear deal reached last month.

The Obama administration warned the move could sabotage delicate ongoing negotiations over a final deal.

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Officials said the president would veto the measure if Congress passed it now.

Democratic Senators Robert Menendez and Charles Schumer introduced the legislation with Republican Sen. Mark Kirk and 23 others.

According to a copy of the draft obtained by Foreign Policy magazine, the bill would allow President Barack Obama to waive the harsh new sanctions as negotiations continue, but only on the basis of strict criteria laid down by Congress.

The administration must prove to Congress every month that Iran is abiding by terms of the interim nuclear deal and provide a detailed report of ongoing nuclear negotiations every 30 days.

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New sanctions would go into effect if Iran cheated on the negotiated deal, planned a terror attack against the US or launched a long-range ballistic missile.

The sanctions include a global boycott on Iranian oil exports and the blacklisting of Iran's mining, engineering and construction industries.

The temporary nuclear deal struck last month in Geneva calls for Tehran to start limiting its nuclear program in exchange for the easing of some international sanctions.

The measure won't likely come to the Senate floor until January.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/politics/131219/senators-introduce-new-iran-sanctions-bill