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US Congressional Support Grows for Iran Sanctions


Support continues to grow on Capitol Hill for international sanctions against Iran, with a U.S. lawmaker announcing legislation calling for such an embargo.

Senator Jon Kyl, an Arizona Republican, says he plans to re-introduce a bill he unveiled late last year that would impose sanctions against foreign companies that facilitate Iran's acquisition of nuclear, biological or chemical weapons through dual use technologies, which can be used for both peaceful and military purposes.

Kyl, who co-sponsored the Iran Nonproliferation Enforcement Act with Senator Russ Feingold, a Wisconsin Democrat, is chairman of the Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on Terrorism, Technology and Homeland Security. He says the bill is aimed at businesses, not the Iranian people.

"The object of the sanctions, as I said, is not to harm the Iranian people," he said. "That would be counterproductive to the primary thesis of this, which is to get the Iranian people by and large to have the confidence that they can at some point come to legitimate governing people of the country and create a democracy, or a country much more democratic than it is right now."

Kyl is also co-chairman of the nonprofit Committee on the Present Danger, which works to promote democracy and fight terrorism around the world. He spoke at a news conference on Capitol Hill.

Former CIA Director James Woolsey, another co-chairman of the group, is calling for President Bush to use his State of the Union address next week to explain to the American people what is at stake in Iran and what needs to be done to resolve the situation.

Last week, the International Atomic Energy agency called an emergency session for February 2 to hear the European case for referring Iran to the United Nations for possible sanctions.

The move followed Tehran breaking a two-year ban on nuclear research. Woolsey says he hopes the UN Security Council will impose sanctions, including an embargo on refined petroleum products, which Iran imports.

He also advocates increasing US-based pro-democracy broadcasting into Iran and increasing assistance to pro-democracy dissidents within that country.

"Our focus here is to bring pressure on this horrible regime to work together as much as possible with the Iranian people and to help those who want to communicate with them and to de-legitimize this terrorist regime," said Woolsey.

Germany, Britain, and France have refused to hold more talks with Iran until Tehran suspends work on its enrichment program. Those nations and the United States suspect the research is aimed at making an atomic bomb, but Iran says the project is for peaceful purposes.

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