Skip to main content

Obama makes case on why Congress should not add sanctions on Iran

By Lateef Mungin, CNN
updated 5:30 AM EST, Thu January 16, 2014
  • President Barack Obama says now is not the time for new sanctions
  • A six-month interim agreement formally begins Monday
  • Iran must limit its nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief
  • Talks will continue on a broader deal to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons

(CNN) -- President Barack Obama gave an impassioned speech to Democratic senators gathered at the White House overnight, urging them that new sanctions could damage negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program.

"They discussed Iran and the President made the case for why new sanctions legislation now would hurt us," a senior administration official told CNN Senior White House Correspondent Jim Acosta.

A senator who was in the room Wednesday night called it "one of the most powerful arguments" about the issue he had ever heard from Obama.

Obama's statements during the closed-door session comes as the clock is ticking on an interim nuclear deal with Iran.

A six-month interim agreement formally begins Monday. That deal means that Iran must dismantle or freeze some of its nuclear program and open it to more international inspections in return for limited relief from crippling international sanctions.

Assuming everything goes as planned, further negotiations between Iran and the United States, France, Russia, China, Britain and Germany will seek a broader agreement intended to prevent Tehran from developing a nuclear weapon.

Meanwhile, pro-Israel members of Congress are seeking additional sanctions against Iran that would take effect if the talks break down.

Obama has said sanctions may mess up the pending negotiations.

U.S. attorney's office accuses man of trying to ship military documents to Iran

Iran to start scaling back nuclear program January 20

CNN's Dana Bash contributed to this report.

Part of complete coverage on
Iran nuclear deal
updated 5:40 AM EST, Thu December 26, 2013
Iranian lawmakers have drafted a bill that would force the government to enrich uranium up to 60% if new sanctions are imposed.
updated 4:31 PM EST, Sun November 24, 2013
Diplomats made history when Iran and six world powers came together on an agreement over Iran's nuclear program.
updated 11:35 AM EST, Sun November 24, 2013
The White House issued a detailed synopsis, or "fact sheet," of the six-month deal regarding Iran's nuclear program.
updated 9:45 PM EST, Sun November 24, 2013
A quick primer to get you up to speed on where we are and how we got there.
updated 8:37 AM EST, Mon November 25, 2013
The deal struck at the weekend is a step forward in the budding rapprochement between Iran and the U.S.
updated 10:59 AM EST, Mon November 25, 2013
While the EU and the U.St. cheered a deal that world powers reached with Tehran over its nuclear ambitions, Israel was fierce in its criticism.
updated 11:38 AM EST, Sun November 24, 2013
These are troubled times for President Barack Obama.
updated 11:19 PM EST, Sat November 23, 2013
U.S. President Barack Obama vows to "ratchet up the pressure" if Iran violates the nuclear deal.
updated 11:26 PM EST, Sat November 23, 2013
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif says he hopes deal with improve Iran's relations with Western powers.
updated 8:51 AM EST, Sun November 24, 2013
Click through our gallery for an overview of how enriched uranium is made.
More than two dozen countries have nuclear power, but only a few have nuclear weapons or are suspected of pursuing nuclear weapons.
updated 11:19 AM EST, Tue November 19, 2013
Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Turkey as well as Israel all fear Iran gaining nuclear status, writes Barak Seener.
updated 7:04 PM EST, Sat November 16, 2013
Russia's foreign minister says the opportunity to bring about an end to a decade-long standoff is one that must not be passed up.