Building on current U.S. sanctions they authored to keep Iran from developing nuclear weapons capacity, U.S. Senators Mark Kirk (R-IL), Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Joseph Lieberman (I-CT) today called for additional sanctions against the Iranian regime as part of the Senate's defense authorization bill.
"According to the latest report from the International Atomic Energy Agency, the Iranian government continues to defy the international community by expanding its nuclear enrichment capacity and abusing human rights," Senator Kirk said. "We must prevent the Iranian regime from acquiring a nuclear weapons capability and make it U.S. policy to stand with the Iranian people in the face of oppression. This bipartisan amendment will greatly increase the economic pressure on the Iranian regime and send a clear message of support to the Iranian people."
Senator Menendez warned that although sanctions currently in place have severely damaged Iran's currency, crushed their oil exports and forced them back to the negotiating table, Iran has not slowed its enrichment efforts, saying: "Yes, our sanctions are having a significant impact, but Iran continues their work to develop nuclear weapons. By passing these additional measures ending sales to and transactions with Iranian sectors that support proliferation --energy, shipping, ship-building and port sectors as well as with anyone on our specially designated national list -- we will send a message to Iran that they can't just try to wait us out."
"Time is running out for diplomacy with Iran," said Senator Lieberman. "We have a responsibility to do everything in our power to put crippling pressure on the Iranian government, and passing these new sanctions is absolutely critical to that effort."
The Senators have filed the proposal as an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act and are working to have it considered on the Senate floor as part of debate on the bill.
The Menendez-Kirk-Lieberman Iran sanctions amendment has four main components:
1. Designates Iran's Energy, Port, Shipping, and Ship-Building Sectors as entities of proliferation concern due to the role they play in supporting Iran's proliferation activities because they both support and fund Iran's proliferation activities. Under the sanctions -- with the exception of permissible petroleum transactions from countries that have significantly reduced their purchases of oil from Iran -- these sectors will be off limits. The U.S. will sanction any transactions with these sectors and will block the property of any third party that engages in transactions with these sectors.
2. Imposes sanctions on persons selling or supplying a defined list of commodities to Iran -- commodities that are relevant to Iran's ship-building and nuclear sectors such as graphite, aluminum, steel, metallurgical coal and software for integrating industrial processes. The amendment also prevents Iran from circumventing sanctions on its Central Bank by receiving payment in precious metals.
3. Designates the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting entity and its President as human rights abusers for their broadcasting of forced televised confession and show trials and thereby block their assets and prevent other entities from doing business with the IRIB.
4. To address concerns about access to humanitarian goods in Iran there are exceptions for the provision and sale to Iran of food, agricultural commodities, medicine, medical devices and other humanitarian goods AND the amendment imposes new human rights sanctions on those in Iran who are engaged in corruption or the diversion of resources related to these goods and that are preventing them for reaching the Iranian people.