US lawmakers urge Obama to use Iran sanctions powers

WASHINGTON — Fifty US lawmakers urged President Barack Obama on Tuesday to slap sanctions on foreign firms with investments of more than 20 million dollars in Iran's energy sector as called for under US law.

The group's letter to Obama came as talks between Iran and world powers, aimed at easing fears over the Islamic republic's suspect nuclear drive, made slower-than-hoped-for progress in Vienna.

"As you continue to engage the Iranian government in negotiations about their nuclear program, we urge you to prepare other measures that can be used if diplomacy cannot resolve this conflict," wrote the lawmakers, led by Republican Representative Mark Kirk and Democratic Representative Ron Klein.

The Iran Sanctions Act of 1996 calls for the president to punish non-US firms that invest more than 20 million dollars in Iran's energy sector, but gives the White House the power to waive the sanctions.

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