25 June 2010
In Washington, both houses of Congress on Thursday passed legislation imposing tough sanctions on companies and individuals linked to Iran’s nuclear program. The measures, which go well beyond the sanctions adopted some weeks ago by the United Nations, will also penalize companies from other countries that do business with Iran. While the Senate approved the bill unanimously, lawmakers in the House of Representatives voted by 408 to 8 to approve the measure. President Obama is expected to sign the bill into law in the coming days.
Members of both parties in Congress stressed the importance of the new sanctions. Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said: "We must stop Iran from developing a nuclear weapon, a weapon that would surely threaten the national security of the United States and of Israel." Republican Senator John McCain declared: "We will be posing a choice to companies around the world: Do you want to do business with Iran? Or do you want to business with the United States? We don't think that is much of a choice, but we will force companies to make it. They can't have it both ways."
Earlier this month, the UN Security Council voted to impose a fourth round of sanctions on Tehran for failing to halt its nuclear enrichment program. They include tighter finance curbs and an expanded arms embargo, but not the stiff sanctions the US had wanted. Three earlier rounds of UN sanctions have blocked trade of "sensitive nuclear material", frozen the financial assets of those involved in Iran's nuclear activities, banned all of Iran's arms exports and encouraged scrutiny of the dealings of Iranian banks.
Prior to the vote, the 'Christian Leaders for a Nuclear-Free Iran', an ad hoc coalition of evangelical, Catholic and other faith leaders who are calling for urgent action to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons, welcomed the sanctions package in Congress and said it would “significantly strengthen sanctions against the regime in Iran.” The coalition demanded for a swift implementation of the sanctions by the Obama administration.
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