The US Senate chambers.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
WASHINGTON – The Senate voted on Wednesday to proceed with a bill that would sanction Iran over its ballistic missile activity, its human rights record and its funding of terrorist organizations across the Middle East, just hours after the Iranian capital suffered a significant terrorist attack.
The timing of Wednesday’s vote – a procedural hurdle before the Senate votes on the bill itself, likely on Thursday – caused several Democratic senators to feel compelled to vote against the measure.
Nevertheless, 92 members voted to move forward with the legislation, with just seven voting against.
The bill, titled the Countering Iran’s Destabilizing Activities Act of 2017, would target what diplomats and lawmakers characterize as Iran’s “nonnuclear” activity – programs of concern to the US government that are not directly related to its nuclear work.
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Iran’s government says that passage of the bill would amount to a violation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the landmark nuclear deal reached among world powers in 2015. The Trump administration has yet to comment on the legislation.
“I join with my colleagues who believe this is the wrong time to approve additional sanctions against Iran,” said Dianne Feinstein of California, one of the most senior members to oppose the measure. “The country has just suffered from two significant terrorist attacks after electing a moderate government with 57% of the vote. We need to give Iran the opportunity to recover and set a new course.”
Islamic State claimed responsibility for dual attacks in Tehran earlier in the day, which struck at the nation’s parliament and one of its holiest shrines. Twelve people were killed and 42 wounded.