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WASHINGTON – The Obama administration welcomed Congressional approval of sweeping Iran sanctions Friday, after months of reservations and negotiations over the legislation.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton pledged complete implementation of the measure, which was passed overwhelming by both chambers Thursday and now awaits only the president’s signature to become law.
“We are committed to fully implementing this legislation in a manner
that advances our multilateral dual-track strategy of engagement and
pressure,” she said in a statement the day after the vote.
Previous sanctions passed in the 1990s were virtually never acted on by
former presidents Bill Clinton or George W. Bush, and though the current
bill reduces loopholes, its enforcement will still largely be dependent
on executive will.
The White House did not receive the wide exemptions it sought for
“cooperating countries,” but did get waiver authority it could apply to
specific companies from cooperating countries once they have been named
As American enterprises are already forbidden from doing business with
Iran, the bill sanctions those foreign companies that sell Iran gasoline
or help develop its energy sector, and forces financial institutions to
chose between using American banks or ones connected to the Iranian
Revolutionary Guards Corps.
Despite the waivers, the legislation still “by far the most
comprehensive sanctions related to Iran” imposed by the Congress,
according to co-author Howard Berman, chairman of the House Foreign
The Congress has for years made attempts to pass further sanctions
against Iran without success. Even this legislation took over a year
from being filed to pass, with the delay at least due in part to members
giving the White House time to test engagement with Tehran and, in
recent weeks, for the UN Security Council to first pass its own more
Clinton said the legislation, along with steps taken by the European
Union and Australia on the heals of the Security Council resolution
“underscore the resolve of the international community to prevent Iran
from developing nuclear weapons and to hold it accountable for its
She added, “The United States will work with our partners to maximize
the impact of these efforts and to continue pursuing a diplomatic
resolution to the international community’s concerns regarding Iran’s
The bill also sanctions individuals involved in Iranian human rights
abuses, require companies to certify they’re not engaging in
sanctionable activity to get US contracts and make it easier for states
and municipalities to divest from Iran, among other provisions.
The sanctions were approved by a 99-0 Senate vote and 408-8 tally in the
House of Representatives.
It came the same day as the House passed a resolution calling for the
immediate release of kidnapped IDF soldier Gilad Shalit, on the
four-year anniversary of his abduction.
“We continue to offer our support to the family of Gilad Shalit and to
the people of Israel,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a statement
issued after the resolution was approved. “Congress stands united behind
a future of peace and security for the Jewish state.”
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