Rice: New sanctions would 'blow up' Iran nuclear talks

Placing additional sanctions on Iran would “blow up” negotiations over the country’s nuclear program, national security adviser Susan Rice said Tuesday.

“The P5+1 would fracture, the international community would blame the United States rather than Iran for the collapse of the negotiations, and the Iranians would conclude that there’s little point in pursuing this process at the negotiating table,” Rice said at a conference hosted by The Wall Street Journal.

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Both Republicans and Democrats have called for Congress to impose additional sanctions on Iran.

While those efforts have been stymied by Senate Democratic leaders, the Republican takeover of the upper chamber could clear the way for tougher sanctions.

The administration is reportedly looking for a way to avoid having to get congressional approval for a deal. A successful agreement would be a major foreign policy achievement for President Obama.

Negotiators had originally hoped to reach a deal by last week. But with no accord in sight between Iran and Western powers, they decided to extend their talks into next year.

At issue is Iran’s enrichment of nuclear material. The Iranian government denies they are seeking a nuclear weapon, but Western powers are demanding that they limit their enrichment capacity.

An agreement would also be contingent on the West easing sanctions that have hurt Iran’s economy.