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Calls for Sanctions Against Iran Grow in US Congress


A U.S. lawmaker is introducing legislation calling on the international community to impose sanctions on Iran in an effort to press Tehran to end its nuclear program. There is growing congressional support for such action.

The resolution is sponsored by Senator Evan Bayh, an Indiana Democrat and member of the Senate Intelligence and Armed Services Committees.

The bill calls on the Bush administration to work with the international community to impose a number of economic, political and diplomatic sanctions against Iran.

The proposed measures include cutting off supplies of refined gasoline to Iran, enacting a worldwide ban on arms sales to that country, cutting U.S. aid to nations whose companies invest in Iran's energy sector, and withdrawing U.S. support for Iran's ascension to the World Trade Organization. The resolution also calls on the U.N. Security Council to limit travel of some Iranian officials, reduce diplomatic exchanges with Iran, and ban Iran from participating in world events, including the World Cup football tournament and the Olympic games.

Bayh discussed the threat he believes Iran poses in a recent CNN "Late Edition" program.

"Iran is the foremost sponsor of terrorism in the world," he said. "Iran is a menace. They have to be dealt with. Appeasement will not work. Nice words will not work. We need to use diplomacy, economic sanctions, other means so that we will not have to resort to military action. But the time to act is now. We [the United States] have been in denial for four long years."

Bayh, a possible presidential candidate in 2008, agrees with the Bush administration that possible military action against Iran should not be ruled out, but he underscores that force should be used as a last resort.

Another potential Democratic Party presidential contender, Senator Hillary Clinton of New York, also expressed support for sanctions against Iran this week.

In a speech at Princeton University in New Jersey, Clinton accused the administration of minimizing the threat posed by Iran and criticized the U.S. decision to turn over negotiations on the issue to Britain, France and Germany.

"I believe we lost critical time in dealing with Iran, because the White House chose to downplay the threats and outsource the negotiations," she said. "I do not believe you face threats like Iran or North Korea by outsourcing it to others and standing on the sidelines."

The White House has dismissed the criticism, saying that ending the threat posed by Iran has always been a top priority of the administration.

Iran's decision to resume nuclear research brought the talks led by Britain, France and Germany over the past two-and-a-half years to an end last week. The Bush administration is working with its allies to put the matter before the United Nations.

Senator John McCain, an Arizona Republican, is another lawmaker who supports sanctions against Iran. On a recent "Face the Nation" program on CBS, he said he hopes the world body will agree to penalize Iran.

"We must go to the U.N. now for sanctions," said Mr. McCain. "If the Russians and the Chinese, for reasons that would be abominable, do not join us, then we would have to go with the willing. There is only one thing worse than the United States exercising a military option, that is a nuclear-armed Iran."

Russia and China are opposed to sanctions, although they have criticized Iran's decision to resume uranium enrichment.

Tehran says its research is for energy, not weapons.