News / Middle East

US Senate Advances New Sanctions on Iran

Senate Foreign Relations Committee member Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., speaks on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Dec. 1, 2011, during the committee's hearing to examine US strategic objectives towards Iran.
Senate Foreign Relations Committee member Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., speaks on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Dec. 1, 2011, during the committee's hearing to examine US strategic objectives towards Iran.
Michael Bowman

The U.S. Senate has unanimously approved  new sanctions on Iran, with the intent of isolating and crippling the country’s central bank. The vote was 100 to nothing.

The logic of the Senate measure is simple: Iran’s economy and nuclear program depend on oil revenue, which must pass through the central bank. Cutting off the central bank from the outside world will, it is hoped, bring Iran’s economy to its knees.

Republican Senator Mark Kirk of Illinois said, “The central bank of Iran is the heart and soul of a web of terror, of nuclear production, of human rights abuse, and the oppression of other peoples, principally in Syria.”

Under the measure, any business or financial entity that has dealings with Iran’s central bank would be cut off from the U.S. market. “It forces financial institutions and businesses around the world to choose between the small and shrinking $300 billion economy of Iran and the $14 trillion economy of the United States. In that contest, we all know how just about everyone will choose," he said.

But while voicing support for strengthened sanctions against Tehran in general, the Obama administration has not supported this particular measure, approved as an amendment to the Senate’s Defense Authorization bill. U.S. Treasury Undersecretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence David Cohen told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that the administration worries the amendment’s punitive intent will impede, rather than foster, international pressure on Iran.

“That threat being focused on our closest allies risks a dynamic with those governments and with those banks that I think is as likely to push them away and to impede the ability to bring together a coordinated effort against Iran as to generate that," he said.

Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman warned the amendment could bring unintended and counter-productive consequences if Iranian oil suddenly disappears from global petroleum supplies. “There is absolutely a risk that, in fact, the [global] price of oil would go up, which would mean that Iran would have more money to fuel its nuclear ambitions, not less," she said.

Democratic Senator Robert Menendez of New Jersey, who co-authored the amendment with Senator Kirk, noted the measure allows for delayed and flexible implementation to reduce the likelihood of negative consequences.

“This amendment was crafted in a way that gives the president two significant pieces of discretion. Number one, to determine that there is sufficient supply in the oil market that would not create a disruption - and if he finds that is not the case, then the actions would not go into effect. He has a second opportunity [to waive provisions]: a national security waiver," he said.

Menendez expressed exasperation about the administration’s resistance to his amendment, noting that U.S. officials have acknowledged it is Iran’s oil industry that fuels its nuclear program.

The Senate’s Defense Authorization bill, now amended to include Iran sanctions, faces additional legislative hurdles and a presidential veto threat over an unrelated matter. The House of Representatives is considering a similar package of heightened Iran sanctions.

You May Like

Photogallery US Storm Falls Short of Severe Predictions, Yet Affects Millions

NYC mayor says, 'This is nothing like we feared it would be,' yet blizzard warnings, travel bans remain for several East Coast states More

Millions of Displaced Nigerians Struggle With Daily Existence

Government acknowledges over a million people displaced in 2014 due to fight against Boko Haram insurgency More

Facebook: Internal Error to Blame for Outages

Temporary outage appeared to spill over and temporarily slow or block traffic to other major Internet sites More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
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.
Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visiti
X
Aru Pande
January 26, 2015 9:33 PM
U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visit

U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video US, EU Threaten New Russia Sanctions Over Ukraine

U.S. President Barack Obama has blamed Russia for an attack by Ukrainian separatists that left dozens dead in the port of Mariupol and cast further doubt on the viability of last year’s cease-fire with the Kyiv government. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington.
Video

Video White House Grapples With Yemen Counterterrorism Strategy

Reports say the U.S. has carried out a drone strike on suspected militants in Yemen, the first after President Barack Obama offered reassurances the U.S. is continuing its counterterrorism operations in the country. The future of those operations has been in question following the collapse last week of Yemen’s government. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Kerry Warns Against Violence in Nigeria Election

US Secretary of State John Kerry visited Nigeria Sunday in a show of the level of concern within the U.S. and the international community over next month’s presidential election. Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Zoo Animals Show Their Artistic Sides

The pursuit of happiness is so important, America's founding fathers put it in the Declaration of Independence. Any zookeeper will tell you animals need enrichment, just like humans do. So painting, and even music, are part of the Smithsonian National Zoo's program to keep the animals happy. VOA’s June Soh met some animal artists at the zoo in Washington. Faith Lapidus narrates.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Saudi, Yemen Developments Are Sudden Complications for Obama

The death of Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah and the collapse of Yemen’s government have cast further uncertainty on U.S. efforts to fight militants in the Middle East and also contain Iran’s influence in the region. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports on the new complications facing the Obama administration and its Middle East policy.
Video

Video Progress, Some Areas of Disagreement in Cuba Talks

U.S. and Cuban officials are reporting progress from initial talks in Havana on re-establishing diplomatic ties. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State (for Western Hemisphere Affairs) Roberta Jacobson said while there was agreement on a broad range of issues, there also are some “profound disagreements” between Washington and Havana. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins has the story.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video S. Korean Businesses Want to End Trade Restrictions With North

Business leaders in South Korea are calling for President Park Geun-hye to ease trade restrictions with North Korea that were put in place in 2010 after the sinking of a South Korean warship.Pro-business groups argue that expanding trade and investment is not only good for business, it is also good for long-term regional peace and security. VOA’s Brian Padden reports.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid