U.S. State Department says new sanctions would risk Iran deal

The passage of a conditional sanctions measure by Congress would risk the ongoing negotiations with Iran over denuclearization, the U.S. State Department said on Wednesday.

Jen Psaki, the spokesperson for the State Department, made the remarks on Wednesday during her daily press briefing. Psaki responded to a question about new sanctions legislation that is gaining the support of a majority of senators. She said the department's position on new legislation, even conditional legislation, has not changed.

"Our position on this hasn't changed," Psaki said. "It's the argument that the Secretary (of State John Kerry)... that Under Secretary (Wendy) Sherman and many administration officials have been making to Congress, which is that new sanctions in any capacity would undermine the prospects for a successful comprehensive nuclear agreement with Iran. We continue to strongly oppose any action taken by members of Congress which we feel is unnecessary and directly contradicts the administration's work to resolve the concerns about the Iranian nuclear program peacefully."

Psaki reiterated that Kerry and President Obama were two of the strongest advocates for sanctions when the sanctions were needed. She said if the U.S. was at a point where new sanctions were required, Kerry and Obama would be leading the charge.

"So the question is: Why risk this important pivotal stage we're at by putting new legislation in place?" Psaki said.

On December 19, the White House said Obama would veto any new sanctions legislation from Congress.