UPDATE 1-US senators offer measure to impose more Iran sanctions
(Updates with comments, background)
WASHINGTON, Dec 19 (Reuters) - Despite opposition from the Obama administration, U.S. senators introduced legislation on Thursday to impose sanctions on Iran if the country breaks an interim deal struck last month under which Tehran agreed to curb its nuclear program.
Democrats Robert Menendez, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Charles Schumer, the third-ranking Democrat in the Senate, and Republican Senator Mark Kirk introduced with 23 others the bill intended to choke off funding to Iran's nuclear program by cutting off its oil sales.
The senators introduced the "Nuclear Weapon Free Iran Act" despite the Obama administration's insistence that passing such a measure would disrupt delicate negotiations between Tehran and world powers over the Islamic republic's nuclear program.
Iran's foreign minister also has said a new sanctions law would kill the interim agreement reached in Geneva on Nov. 24. In that agreement, Tehran agreed to limit uranium enrichment in return for an easing of international sanctions.
It was not immediately clear whether or when the measure might come to the Senate floor for a vote, given staunch opposition by President Barack Obama's administration and many of its supporters in Congress.
The proposed legislation would require reductions in Iran's petroleum production and apply new penalties to Iran's engineering, mining and construction industries if Iran violated the interim agreement or if negotiators failed to reach a final comprehensive agreement.
But it also gives the administration up to a year to pursue a diplomatic track resulting in the "complete and verifiable termination" of Iran's nuclear weapons program, the group of senators said as they announced the legislation.
"Current sanctions brought Iran to the negotiating table and a credible threat of future sanctions will require Iran to cooperate and act in good faith at the negotiating table," Menendez said in a statement.
(Reporting by Timothy Gardner; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)