“Most powerful US Iran sanctions ever”

25 Jun 2010

The American Congress on Thursday overwhelmingly passed tough new sanctions against Iran, sending a message to Iran that becoming a nuclear power could be accompanied by a high economic price. The Senate vote was 99-0. The House vote was 408-8.
The Senate and House in quick succession approved the penalties that focus on Iran’s powerful Revolutionary Guard Corps and the country’s imports of gas and other refined energy products. The sanctions bill now goes to the White House for President Barack Obama’s signature. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said the legislation, coming after a year in which the Obama administration’s direct diplomacy efforts were largely rebuffed by Iran, represented “the most powerful sanctions ever imposed by the Congress on the government of Iran.” Foreign companies will be given a choice, McCain said. “Do you want to do business with Iran, or do you want to do business with the United States?” One provision added in final House-Senate negotiations specifies that foreign banks interacting with the Revolutionary Guard or certain Iranian banks will be shut out of the US financial system.

Lawmakers from both parties stressed that the bill will be ineffective if the Obama administration, like past administrations, chooses not to punish violators in order to avoid confrontations with other countries. Senate Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd, D-Conn., the top Senate negotiator on the bill, acknowledged the weak response of past presidents, but he said the new bill, while still containing waiver provisions, states “in no uncertain terms” that the president must investigate if there is credible evidence of a violation and ultimately impose sanctions.
Fariborz Ghadar, a scholar and Iran expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said he didn’t think the new penalties would have a substantial economic impact. He said Iran’s oil industry has already been hit by restrictions on direct investment and that Iran, in anticipation of sanctions on gas sales, has taken steps to reduce domestic consumption and cut dependence on gas imports from 40 percent of total use to less than 30 percent.

source: The Washington Post

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