U.S. Senate panel votes to advance Iran sanctions bill

WASHINGTON. KAZINFORM - The U.S. Senate Banking Committee on Thursday voted 18-4 to advance the new bipartisan Iran sanctions bill for a full-floor vote.

The bill stipulated that tougher sanctions would be imposed on Iran if it fails to sign an agreement to curb its nuclear ambition by June 30. A full Senate vote for the bill, however, is unlikely until March 24.

In a recent victory for U.S. President Barack Obama, who openly opposed such new sanctions bill, ten Senate Democrats, including the bill's coauthor Senator Robert Menendez, announced Tuesday they would hold off new sanctions bill against Iran till March 24, giving international negotiators breathing room for their diplomatic efforts.

Meanwhile, U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Thursday the Obama administration did not regard the Senate Banking Committee's approval of the bill as "detrimental" to the ongoing negotiations between Iran and the P5+1 group, namely the U. S., Britain, France, China, Russia and Germany.

"Today's vote was just the first step in a multi-step legislative process before a bill could be enacted into law," said Psaki at the regular briefing, stressing that putting the bill into law would be detrimental. "The president clearly stated that he will veto any new sanctions bill that threatens to undo the process we've made in freezing and rolling back Iran's nuclear program."

The squabble over the new sanctions bill was the latest of a series of issues which reflected hostility between the White House and a Republican-controlled Congress.

The P5+1 group has agreed with Iran to try to reach a political agreement before the end of March, with a view to a final deal by June 30, Xinhua reports.

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