Obama Warns Congress: More Iran Sanctions Could Lead to War

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U.S. President Barack Obama answers questions at a press conference in the East Room of the White House on Jan. 16, 2015. Credit: AFP

REUTERS - U.S. President Barack Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron warned U.S. lawmakers on Friday not to trigger new sanctions against Iran over its nuclear program, saying such a move would upset diplomatic talks and potentially lead to war.

In a joint news conference at the White House, Obama and Cameron urged members of Congress to be patient and hold off on any legislation calling for further sanctions now.

"There is no good argument for us to try to undercut, undermine the negotiations until they've played themselves out," Obama told reporters.

"Congress needs to show patience," he added. "My main message to Congress is 'Just hold your fire.'"

Obama said he told Democratic lawmakers he would veto a bill calling for more sanctions if it landed on his desk.

The joint push with Cameron, who said he had called U.S. senators personally about the issue, represented the strongest effort yet by the White House to prevent lawmakers from both parties from seeking to force additional penalties on Tehran.

Obama said Iran could use such sanctions as an excuse to abandon talks and accuse Washington of blowing up the deal and acting in bad faith.

"There would be some sympathy to that view around the world, which means that the sanctions that we have in place now would potentially fray," Obama said.

"Congress should be aware that if this diplomatic solution fails, then the risks and likelihood that this ends up being at some point a military confrontation is heightened. And Congress will have to own that as well."

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Iranian counterpart Mohammad Jawad Zarif met in Paris on Friday to try to iron out disagreements over Iran's nuclear program.  

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