Sigh. Gotta love the Bush family, eh?
The House voted Thursday to impose mandatory sanctions on entities that provide goods or services for Iran’s weapons programs. The vote came as U.S diplomats continued to press the U.N. Security Council to penalize Tehran if it fails to end its uranium enrichment program.
House sponsors of the Iran Freedom Support Act said they had hoped for Senate action as early as Thursday night, sending it to President Bush for his signature. But they said there was resistance from Senate Democrats to passing it without a debate.
The bill, passed by a voice vote, sanctions any entity that contributes to Iran’s ability to acquire chemical, biological or nuclear weapons. The president has the authority to waive those sanctions, but only when he can show that it is in the vital national interest.
“It would be a critical mistake to allow a regime with a track record as bloody and as dangerous as Iran to obtain nuclear weapons,” said Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., sponsor of the measure. “Enough with the carrots. It’s time for the stick.”
But critics questioned the need for unilateral action when the United States was pushing for a multinational approach to Iran’s alleged nuclear program. “It is, if you will, a cruise missile aimed at a difficult diplomatic effort just as they are reaching their most sensitive point,” said Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore. “The timing for this legislation could not be worse.”
The measure codifies existing economic sanctions against the Tehran government that have been in effect since the takeover of the U.S. embassy in 1979 and states that the president must notify Congress 15 days before terminating any of those sanctions.
It also approves assistance for human rights, pro-democracy and independent organizations and states that it is the sense of Congress that the United States should not enter into agreements with governments that are assisting Iran’s nuclear program or transferring weapons or missiles to Iran.