In a closed-door briefing on Thursday, senior White House officials, including Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of State John Kerry, urged the senators to hold off on a new package of sanctions on Iran.
White House officials did not sway every senator who participated in the meeting, but the Senate Banking Committee would reportedly delay plans for drafting a new sanctions bill next week.
“As one member of the committee, my attitude is if something is going on that may lead to a positive result, let's see where that ends up,'' said Republican Sen. Mike Johanns, referring to the nuclear talks in Geneva. “We can always pass a sanctions bill.”
An official in Biden's office said that there may come a point when more sanctions are needed, but now may not be the best time for Congress to act.
"No one is suggesting an open-ended delay for new sanctions, and there may come a point where additional sanctions are necessary," the official said on condition of anonymity.
Reports say the White House wants to see the outcome of the upcoming Geneva negotiations with Tehran first before agreeing to sign off on new sanctions.
Iran held nuclear talks with the United States, Russia, China, France, Britain and Germany in Geneva earlier this month. They are set to meet again in Geneva on November 7-8.
Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Robert Menendez (D-NJ) said on Monday that the Senate aimed to cut Iran’s current oil exports to 500,000 barrels per day.
"This is not the time to loosen sanctions," he said during a meeting of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), in New York.
AIPAC, the most powerful Israeli lobby in the US, has recently sent a memo to members of Congress, insisting that Iran does not have the right to enrich uranium.
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