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US Lawmakers Seek Sanctions Against Iran's Revolutionary Guard


The U.S. Senate is expected to vote as early as Tuesday on a draft resolution saying Iran's Revolutionary Guards should be designated a terrorist organization. VOA's Deborah Tate reports from Capitol Hill.

The United States has repeatedly accused the Guards' foreign operations arm, the Quds force, of providing training and arms to Iraqi insurgents to attack U.S. troops.

Senator Joe Lieberman of Connecticut, who calls himself an independent Democrat, is the sponsor of a resolution that expresses "the sense of the Senate" that the Guards should be designated a terrorist organization.

"It will send a clear message to our allies in the region that the United States will not stand idly by and allow Iranian-backed terrorists to kill hundreds of American soldiers," he said.

Lieberman discussed the measure, contained in an amendment to a defense bill, on the Senate floor Monday as Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad addressed students and faculty at Columbia University in New York. Lieberman criticized the university's invitation to the Iranian leader to speak there.

"Ahmadinejad should not be given any American platform to speak from until he acts to stop his government's killing of Americans," he said.

The Bush administration is also considering designating the Iranian Revolutionary Guards a terrorist group, which would subject the organization to economic and diplomatic sanctions.

The co-sponsor of the Senate proposal, Republican Senator Jon Kyl of Arizona, says the measure should not be viewed as a step toward U.S. military action against Iran.

"Nobody wants to have to engage in military action against Iran directly, but what we would like to do is get them to stop killing our troops, and one way to do that is to put the economic pressure on the organization that is doing the killing," he said.

Another proposal to come to a Senate vote as early as Tuesday is one sponsored by Senator Joe Biden of Delaware, who is seeking the Democratic Party's nomination for president next year.

His plan calls for allowing Iraq to divide along ethnic lines, with Sunni, Shiite and Kurdish regions controlling their own police and government services, and a central government in Baghdad protecting Iraq's borders and distributing oil revenues.

The measure is non-binding and would not force a change in President Bush's war strategy.

But Biden says the plan offers a path to a political solution in Iraq that could allow U.S. troops to eventually go home without leaving chaos behind.

"Everyone of us knows that whether or not we are here three years from now, there will not be 133,000 troops in Iraq. That will not be the case, no matter who is president. The American people will not stand for it and we will respond," he said.

Last week, a number of Democratic-sponsored measures aimed at changing the course of the war were blocked by Senate Republicans, who argued that President Bush's troop surge should be given more time to work. The top U.S. commander in Iraq, General David Petraeus, told Congress earlier this month that the surge has resulted in some progress in Iraq.

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