MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russia and China signed energy, trade and finance agreements on Monday proclaimed by Moscow as proof that a policy turn to Asia is bearing fruit and will help it to weather Western sanctions over the Ukraine crisis.
A leading group of senators is pressuring the Obama administration to take greater action against Russian aggression in the Ukraine by sanctioning the Kremlin’s top banks and banning them from using the globe’s premier financial service.
The United States has leveled new sanctions on several individuals and entities found to be abetting Iran’s missile and nuclear programs, as well as its efforts to evade sanctions and support terrorism, the White House and Treasury Department announced early Friday.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin said new sanctions against Russia were needed to stabilize the crisis in Ukraine during a Tuesday speech, shortly ahead of the announcement of new sanctions by President Barack Obama.
Senators are moving to block the White House from giving Iran another $2.8 billion in cash assets until the administration can assure lawmakers that Tehran will not use the money to fund terrorism, according to a copy of new legislation obtained by the Washington Free Beacon.
A group of senators unveiled new legislation late Wednesday that would force President Barack Obama to go to Congress for approval on any potential nuclear deal with Iran and that would bar the White House from granting any further extension in the talks, according to Senate sources familiar with the bill.
The Iran Nuclear Negotiations Act of 2014—jointly sponsored by Republican Sens. Bob Corker (Tenn.), Lindsey Graham (S.C.), John McCain (Ariz.), and James Risch (Idaho)—would require the president to submit any nuclear agreement with Iran to Congress within three days of the deal being struck, according to sources briefed on the bill.
Iran could still produce enough nuclear material to fuel a bomb in as little as two months, a timeframe that has not been prolonged under the recently struck agreement to extend nuclear talks through November, according to experts.
The United States will give Iran access to another $2.8 billion over the next several months and appears to have conceded to Iran’s demand that it be permitted to domestically enrich uranium, the key component in a nuclear weapon, according to senior Obama administration officials.
Lawmakers came out swinging on Thursday afternoon after the State Department issued a blanket denial regarding statements that Secretary of State John Kerry made to members of Congress earlier that morning about the potential need for new sanctions on Iran.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani is in Turkey this week for the first official high-level meeting in nearly 20 years, sparking speculation that the two nations are growing closer as a means to offset U.S. power in the region and further solidify a deal meant to skirt U.S. sanctions on Tehran.