WASHINGTON, Dec. 10 (Xinhua) -- The United States Senate has decided not to impose new sanctions on Iran, following Obama administration's efforts to defend a landmark interim nuclear deal.
That was learned from a statement issued by Tim Johnson, chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, Tuesday.
"The President and Secretary Kerry have made a strong case for a pause in Congressional action on new Iran sanctions, so I am inclined to support their request and hold off on Committee action for now," said Johnson.
The P5+1 group, namely the U.S., Britain, China, France, Russia and Germany, and Iran reached a first-step agreement in late November that scales back Iran's nuclear program, while lifting some of the harsh global sanctions that have crippled Iran's economy. U.S. President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry have since then warned against new sanctions on Iran.
The Senate's decision to hold off new sanctions came as Kerry prepares for the next round of talks with Iran on implementing the interim deal and forging a permanent agreement.
At a congressional hearing earlier Tuesday, Kerry defended the interim nuclear deal by saying it "unequivocally" furthered U.S. national security.
"The national security of the United States is stronger under this first step agreement than it was before," Kerry told skeptical lawmakers on the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.
Kerry urged lawmakers to hold off imposing new sanctions and to give more time and space for negotiators to do their job.
"This is a very delicate diplomatic moment and we have a chance to address peacefully one of the most pressing national security concerns that the world faces today," the U.S. top diplomat said at the hearing.
Kerry acknowledged that it is rightly to be skeptical about Tehran's real intentions, adding that U.S. would employ a "test, but verify" approach in the course of the interim agreement.
"We certainly don't just take words at face value," he said. " We have no illusions. It's a tough road."