US Senate unfazed on sanctions after Rohani win

The new sanctions bill aims to bring Iranian oil exports to zero and close currency loopholes; cautious optimism for Rohani.

June 19, 2013 01:18
1 minute read.
US Capitol building in Washington DC.

US Capitol building in Washington DC 390. (photo credit: Kevin Lamarque / Reuters)

WASHINGTON – US senators are pushing forward with a new sanctions package against Iran despite the victory of moderate Hassan Rohani in last week’s election, sources tell The Jerusalem Post.

Language for the Senate bill is expected to be completed in the next month, while matching legislation in the House of Representatives will likely see a vote before the July 4 recess.

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The bill aims to bring Iranian oil exports to zero and close currency loopholes.

The choice of Rohani, a cleric who has served as chief negotiator with the West over Iran’s nuclear program and effectively as a national security adviser to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has been approached with cautious optimism on Capitol Hill. Senate aides point to a series of speeches from the presidentelect made in the early 2000s, in which he outlines a tactic of the regime that treats negotiations with Western powers as a ploy to buy time for progress on its nuclear program.

Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Illinois) tweeted Tuesday that Rohani was “hand picked” by the supreme leader and the Guardian Council. Kirk called his overtures to the West “clear” deception.

“With time running out, the Senate should move forward with toughest sanctions possible,” he tweeted. “Rope-a-dope talks not an option.”

The power of sanctions comes not from legislation, but from enforcement, another aide said. On that principle, leading senators on the issue cannot predict how the White House will change its actions going forward.

The Obama administration has remained relatively quiet on Rohani’s election, only congratulating the Iranian people for turning out under difficult circumstances and calling for “direct talks” with their new leader over the country’s nuclear program, which has progressed substantially since the last round of talks.

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