News / Middle East

Tighter US Sanctions on Iran Clear Legislative Hurdle

Iranian President Mahmood Ahmadinejad (file photo)
Iranian President Mahmood Ahmadinejad (file photo)

The U.S. Congress is moving to tighten sanctions against Iran, following allegations that a plot to assassinate Saudi Arabia's ambassador to Washington had Iranian backing. The House Foreign Affairs Committee has approved a bill targeting Iran's central bank, oil industry, nuclear program, and security forces.

Political pressure is building from U.S. lawmakers of both political parties to boost pressure on Iran.

“The recently foiled Iranian plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to the U.S., and to bomb the Saudi and Israeli embassies here in Washington demonstrates the urgent need to abandon the illusion of the effectiveness of more-measured sanctions,”  said Congressman Chris Smith.

Iranian President Mahmood Ahmadinejad this week said existing sanctions already are hurting the nation's economy.

On Wednesday, the House Foreign Affairs Committee approved sweeping legislation to tighten sanctions on Iran’s financial, petroleum, and nuclear interests.  It also seeks to isolate Iran’s security forces and boost the organizational and communications abilities of anti-government demonstrators in the country.

“The nuclear clock is moving ever-closer to midnight.  We cannot nibble around the edges.  We need a sanctions regime that is as bold as the Iranian nuclear program is brazen,” said
the committee’s top Democrat, Howard Berman.

The Obama administration has supported increasing international pressure on Tehran.  But also has said it hopes multilateral negotiations to end Iran's suspected nuclear weapons program will work.  Iran denies involvement in any foreign assassination plots, and insists its nuclear program is entirely peaceful.

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