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Berman, Ros-Lehtinen introduce toughened Iran sanctions

JTA

May 17, 2011 | 4:38 pm

A bipartisan bill introduced by top lawmakers in the U.S. House of Representatives would considerably tighten sanctions on Iran.

The bill, introduced May 13 by Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), the chairwoman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and Rep. Howard Berman (D-Calif.), its ranking Democrat, would ban business with any entity that does $1 million in a single trade with Iran’s energy sector, or $5 million over one year.

It also would expand sanctions against alleged human rights violators and financial institutions that deal with Iran.

Current sanctions ban trade with entities that do $20 million in business annually with Iran’s energy sector.

“The threat posed by Iran to U.S. national security, our interests, and that of our allies has reached a critical level,” Ros-Lehtinen said in a statement. “There is no time to waste. The goal of U.S. policy, working alone or leading other responsible nations, must be to compel the Iranian regime not just to cease, but to verifiably dismantle its nuclear weapons program and abandon its other unconventional weapons pursuits and state-sponsorship of global terrorist networks.”

Berman noted United Nations reports that say Iran is finding ways to circumvent current sanctions. 

Both lawmakers—Ros-Lehtinen in blunt terms, Berman more subtly—chided the Obama administration for not implementing more forcefully enhanced sanctions approved last year.

“Given the grave nature of the Iranian threat, it is my hope that my colleagues will support further strengthening the bill as it moves through the legislative process and not fall into the trap of enabling the Executive Branch to ignore U.S. law,” Ros-Lehtinen said.

Berman, using the acronym for the 2010 sanctions, CISADA, said that “As we await vigorous enforcement by the Obama Administration under CISADA, we must continually look ahead and examine additional means to pressure Iran, and that is exactly what this new legislation is intended to do.”

Foreign Policy reported Tuesday that similar legislation was under consideration in the U.S. Senate, sponsored by Sens. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) and Mark Kirk (R-Ill.)

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