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Senate resolution would rule out containing nuclear Iran

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Sen. Lindsey Graham and Sen. Joseph Lieberman on Capitol Hill March 9, 2010. (Harry Hamburg/AP)

A bipartisan group of senators--Bob Casey (D-Penn.), Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) and Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.)--are circulating a draft resolution that would rule out the United States adopting a strategy of containment should Iran acquire nuclear weapons.

The measure, called a "Sense of the Senate" resolution, is not technically binding. But it would put additional pressure on the administration to limit diplomatic efforts to resolve concerns about Iran's nuclear program, without recourse to another war.

"The attached bi-partisan resolution will put the Senate on record as ruling out a strategy of containment for a nuclear-armed Iran in the strongest and clearest terms, detailing why the consequences cannot be 'contained' like the threat of the Soviet Union," Senators Casey, Lieberman and Graham wrote in a note introducing the draft resolution, obtained by Yahoo News. It "will send a clear message to Iran's rulers that the United States is absolutely determined to stop them from getting nuclear weapons."

Notably, one provision of the draft resolution seemingly rejects a negotiated agreement with Iran permitting any sort of nuclear enrichment, including for energy programs--a right Iran has insisted it should be permitted as a signatory to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Iranian leaders have periodically expressed willingness to stop 20 percent enrichment activities--but not lower level 3.5 percent uranium enrichment they say Iran is pursuing for peaceful nuclear energy purposes.

The resolution comes after President Obama said Sunday that while the United States is prepared to take military action should that become necessary, he still hopes to resolve the Iran nuclear crisis through diplomacy and tough new economic sanctions on Iran that the United States and Europe have recently passed.

"The only way over the long term we can be assured that Iran does not get a nuclear weapon is by getting them to understand that it's not in their interest," Obama told NBC's Matt Lauer in an interview Sunday.

European diplomats also said they hope to work with the United States and other international powers to persuade Iran to come back to the negotiating table.

"Sanctions are never going to sort out this issue," Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt told Yahoo News in an interview Wednesday. "The military option will not sort out this issue. At the end of the day, you need some sort of agreement, that needs to be prepared and pursued over time ... What you need is a process."

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