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WASHINGTON -- The White House launched a harsh attack on supporters of a Senate bill to impose fresh sanctions on Iran, suggesting that they have a hidden goal of drawing the country into another Mideast war.

If supporters “want the United States to take military action, they should be up front with the American people and say so,” Bernadette Meehan, a spokeswoman for the National Security Council, said in a statement. “Otherwise, it’s not clear why any member of Congress would support a bill that possibly closes the door on diplomacy and makes it more likely that the United States will have to choose between military options or allowing Iran’s nuclear program to continue.”

[Updated at 1:30 p.m. on Jan. 10: A pro-sanctions advocacy group, United Against a Nuclear Iran, pushed back.

“It is wrong for the White House to continue questioning the integrity and motives of anyone who supports more sanctions,” said Mark Wallace, chief executive of the group. “It is nonsensical and out of bounds to say that a bipartisn majority of U.S. senators secretly wants war with Iran.”]

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