US Lawmakers Approve Sanctions Measure Against Iran

US lawmakers have criticized Iran's government for continuing its uranium enrichment program as House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved legislation that, if passed by full Congress and signed by President Barack Obama, would expand existing sanctions targeting Iran's refined petroleum infrastructure.



The Iran Refined Petroleum Sanctions Act has enjoyed overwhelming bipartisan support.  This has intensified as the Obama administration's outreach to Iran has been rebuffed and Tehran has defied international demands by expanding its nuclear enrichment program.

Approved in the House by a vote of 412 to 12, the measure targets Iran's dependence on imported gasoline.  It stiffens penalties for companies involved in supplying Iran with as much as 40 percent of its refined petroleum needs by denying them access to U.S markets.

Howard Berman, Democratic Chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, said Congress is forced to act because Iran has responded to President Obama's outstretched hand with a "clenched fist."

"I believe that passage and implementation of this act would have a powerful effect on the Iranian economy.  And I believe it would force unpalatable budgetary choices on the Iranian regime, vastly increasing the domestic political cost of pursuing its nuclear program," he said.

Concern about Iran's nuclear program, which the United States and other governments say is aimed at developing nuclear weapons, was intensified by Iran's announcement that it would build 10 more nuclear plants and construct thousands of additional centrifuges to process uranium.  Tehran maintains that its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes.

Lawmakers referred to a report Tuesday in The Washington Post newspaper, saying that Western and United Nations officials are analyzing an Iranian technical document that appears to show Iranian scientists evaluating or testing a component crucial to detonating a nuclear warhead.

Tuesday's debate found Democrats and Republicans supporting the bill, while opponents asserted that sanctions would be ineffective and harm President Obama's ongoing diplomatic efforts with Iran.

Speaker of the House Democrat Nancy Pelosi said the legislation and the waiver authority it contains, would strengthen President Obama's diplomatic hand, while Republican Ileana Ros-Lehtinen stressed the threat an Iranian nuclear weapon would pose.

PELOSI:  "With this legislation today we strengthen the president's hand to use or to withhold this particular sanction, but to have the capability to use diplomacy in a stronger way."
LEHTINEN:  "Iran has manipulated nations, world leaders and the United Nations on its march toward possessing the capacity to unleash nuclear havoc on the world."

Representatives Dennis Kucinich and Stephen Lynch were among the nine Democrats and three Republicans who voted against the measure.

KUCINICH:  "This legislation obstructs the Obama administration's ongoing negotiations with Iran, amounts to economic warfare against the Iranian people, and brings us closer to an unnecessary military confrontation."
LYNCH:  "This bill will help [Iranian President Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad.  This will have the same effect that we have seen with other embargos and sanctions."

Representative Mark Kirk, a Republican and co-sponsor of the first gasoline sanction proposals in 2005, disagreed saying the measure would be effective.

"A restriction of gasoline deliveries to Iran, administered through multilateral sanctions and enforced by the world's most powerful navies, will pit our greatest strength against Iran's greatest weakness -- all without a shot being fired," he said.

Approval of the House version comes amid questions of whether the U.S. Senate will act on a similar measure it has before the end of the year.

Last week, the State Department voiced concern that the Senate bill in its current form "might weaken rather than strengthen international unity and support" for U.S efforts on Iran.  Negotiations are continuing.

Looking ahead to the task of reconciling the House and Senate bills, Representive Berman said he remains open to adjustments that would encourage other nations to support a strong regime of multilateral sanctions against Iran, including the possibility of exempting companies whose host nations are already enforcing robust sanctions in their national laws.

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europei
Luis Ramirez
October 02, 2015 4:45 PM
European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europe

European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video First Self-Driving Truck Debuts on European Highways

The first automated semi-trailer truck started its maiden voyage Friday, Oct. 2, on a European highway. The Daimler truck called 'Actros' is the first potentially mass-produced truck whose driver will be required only to monitor the situation, similar to the role of an airline captain while the plane is in autopilot mode. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Migrant Influx Costs Europe, But Economy Could Benefit

The influx of hundreds of thousands of refugees and migrants is testing Europe’s ability to respond – especially in the poorer Balkan states. But some analysts argue that Europe will benefit by welcoming the huge numbers of young people – many of them well educated and willing to work. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

Video New Fabric Helps Fight Dust-Related Allergies

Many people around the world suffer from dust-related allergies, caused mainly by tiny mites that live in bed linen. Polish scientists report they have successfully tested a fabric that is impenetrable to the microscopic creatures. VOA’s George Putic has more.

Video Burkina Faso's Economy Deeply Affected by Political Turmoil

Political turmoil in Burkina Faso over the past year has taken a toll on the economy. The transitional government is reporting nearly $70 million in losses in the ten days that followed a short-lived coup by members of the presidential guard earlier this month. The crisis shut businesses and workers went on strike. With elections on the horizon, Emilie Iob reports on what a return to political stability can do for the country's economic recovery.

Video Fleeing Violence, Some Syrians Find Refuge in Irbil

As Syrians continue to flee their country’s unrest to seek new lives in safer places, VOA Persian Service reporter Shepol Abbassi visited Irbil, where a number Syrians have taken refuge. During the religious holidy of Eid al-Adha, the city largely shut down, as temperatures soared. Amy Katz narrates his report.

Video Nigeria’s Wecyclers Work for Reusable Future in Lagos

The streets and lagoons of Africa's largest city - Lagos, Nigeria - are often clogged with trash, almost none of which gets recycled. One company is trying to change that. Chris Stein reports for VOA from Lagos.

Video Sketch Artist Helps Catch Criminals, Gives a Face to Deceased

Police often face the problem of trying to find a crime suspect based on general descriptions that could fit hundreds of people in the vicinity of the crime. In these cases, an artist can use information from witnesses to sketch a likeness that police can show the public via newspapers and television. But, as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, such sketches can also help bring back faces of the dead.

Video Thailand Set to Build China-like Internet Firewall

Thai authorities are planning to tighten control over the Internet, creating a single international access point so they can better monitor content. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Bangkok on what is being called Thailand’s own "Great Firewall."

Video Croatian Town’s War History Evokes Empathy for Migrants

As thousands of Afghanistan, Iraqi and Syrian migrants pass through Croatia, locals are reminded of their own experiences with war and refugees in the 1990s. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from the town of Vukovar, where wartime scars still are visible today.

Video Long Drought Affecting California’s Sequoias

California is suffering under a historic four-year drought and scientists say even the state's famed sequoia trees are feeling the pain. The National Park Service has started detailed research to see how it can help the oldest living things on earth survive. VOA’s George Putic reports.

VOA Blogs