The U.S. Senate passed legislation that endorses more sanctions for Iran after including a provision stipulating that the measure doesn’t authorize the use of force against the Middle Eastern country.
The bill, passed on a voice vote today, includes a “sense of Congress” that intensified sanctions would help compel Iran to abandon its efforts to acquire a nuclear weapon. The measure urges President Barack Obama to initiate efforts to expand Iranian sanctions.
“The Iranians need to know that we mean business,” said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Nevada Democrat. “I am very happy that we were able to get this done.”
The measure would require the Treasury Department to investigate whether the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps owns or controls the National Iranian Oil Co. and the National Iranian Tanker Co.
It would bar U.S.-based companies from doing business with a financial messaging service for international money transfers, known as Swift, if it processes transactions involving Iranian banks. The legislation would require corporate disclosure of Iran-related activity to the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Senator Rand Paul, a Kentucky Republican, dropped his objections to the bill after a provision was added emphasizing that nothing in the measure “shall be construed as a declaration of war or an authorization of the use of force against Iran or Syria.”
Passage of the measure came as Obama attended a NATO summit in Chicago.
Costs ’Outweigh’ Benefit
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, said the additional sanctions could help convince Iranian leaders “that the costs of pursuing this weapon outweigh any perceived benefit.”
“Any comprehensive policy that seeks to end Iran’s effort to acquire a nuclear weapon needs to convince the rulers in Tehran that their survival is in question,” McConnell said. “The Senate has worked hard to improve our sanctions toward Iran, and this effort, combined with the sanctions of the European Union, should strengthen the hand of our own negotiators.”
The Senate’s action sets up a potential conference with the U.S. House, which passed a version of the sanctions legislation, 410-11, on Dec. 14.