U.S. lawmakers push ahead with Iran sanctions plan

A senior U.S. senator said lawmakers will press ahead with a plan for more Iranian sanctions

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Republican and Democratic U.S. lawmakers will press ahead with a plan for more sanctions on Iran, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee said in an interview on Wednesday, despite White House warnings that they risked derailing nuclear talks.

Lawmakers, who say they fear Obama administration negotiators may not take a hard enough line with Tehran, are also at work on a separate bill to have Congress approve any final agreement on Iran's nuclear program, Senator Bob Corker, the chairman, told Reuters in an interview.

"There's continual efforts to try to figure out a way for Congress to play a role to strengthen whatever final deal may occur," the Tennessee Republican senator said.

Republican Senator Mark Kirk and Democratic Senator Robert Menendez are finalizing a bill for tougher sanctions on Iran if there is no final nuclear deal by June 30.

The Senate Banking Committee is due to hold a hearing on Iran sanctions on Tuesday, said Corker, a member also of that panel.

Kirk and Menendez introduced a sanctions bill in December 2013, but it did not come up for a vote in the Senate, then controlled by President Barack Obama's fellow Democrats, who lost control of the chamber because of big losses in November elections.

The White House has insisted passage of a sanctions bill now - even one that would impose new restrictions only if there is no deal by the deadline - could prompt Iran to back out of the nuclear talks with six world powers.

Although Republicans now hold a 54-46 seat majority in the Senate, Corker said he did not know if there would be enough votes - 67 - needed in the Senate to override an Obama veto of any Iran legislation.

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