U.S. Reps and Senators introduce new measures on Iran sanctions and Israeli defense

Click photo to download. Caption: U.S. Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY) introduced a new bill to Congress, Nuclear Iran Prevention Act of 2013, tightening sanctions on Iran. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

(JNS.org) Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee U.S. Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA) and the committee’s ranking member U.S. Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY) introduced a bill on Feb. 27  that would tighten sanctions on Iran. The legislation was announced just as Iranian leaders met in Kazakhstan with the P5+1 powers--the U.S., Russia, China, France, Germany and Britain--and received an offer of eased sanctions in return for reducing uranium enrichment.

“We are heading for goals that will be satisfactory for both sides. I am very optimistic and hopeful,” Iran's Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi told Austrian broadcaster ORF during a visit to Vienna for a United Nations conference, according to Israel Hayom. “We show a way into the easing of sanctions. We don't give away the crown jewels in the first step,” an anonymous Western diplomat said.

The newly proposed Nuclear Iran Prevention Act of 2013 would increase President Barack Obama’s ability to sanction Iranian imports that the West suspects Iran is using as a front for nuclear weapons development, such as mined metals or energy equipment. The legislation would further enforce the existing sanctioning of bank transactions with Iran.

The legislation calls on the U.S to work with European allies toward the cessation of Euro-denominated transactions. If passed in Congress, the bill will also require U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry to decide if the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps should be considered a foreign terrorist organization and be subjected to additional sanctions. “We will continue to tighten the screws on Iran until the regime abandons its nuclear weapons program,” Engel said in a statement released Feb. 27. Further meetings are scheduled in Istanbul in March and again in Kazakhstan in April.

In the meantime, another group of bipartisan U.S. Senators introduced a resolution Feb. 28 stating that if Israel is “compelled to take military action in self-defense, the United States government should stand with Israel and provide diplomatic, military and economic support to the government of Israel in its defense of its territory, people and existence.”

U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) announced the measure in a press conference along with the Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ), and Sens. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Susan Collins, (R-ME), John Hoeven (R-ND), Bob Casey (D-PA) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT). The measure, however, is “not a green light to Israel to do anything other than defend itself,” Graham said. The senators hope to pass the resolution before Obama’s visit to Israel in March.

Posted on March 1, 2013 .