Senate Approves Iran Sanctions
But the U.S. may not really want them
Yesterday afternoon, the U.S. Senate passed a bill—similar to one the House of Representatives has already okayed—that would impose significant additional sanctions on the Iranian elite as well as energy companies that do business with the Islamic Republic (the bill was passed by voice vote, so the yeas and nays are not reported). This came one day after President Barack Obama warned, in his State of the Union address, “As Iran’s leaders continue to ignore their obligations, there should be no doubt: they, too, will face growing consequences. That is a promise.” He was unmistakably referring to the same thing the Senate bill is: Iran’s U.N.-flouting, probably-not-merely-peaceful nuclear program.
The bill would:
• Bar U.S. financial institutions from extending loans or other assistance to companies that export gasoline to Iran or contract with it for oil-refining projects;
• Ban U.S.-Iran imports and exports (other than food and medicine);
• Empower the U.S. to freeze the assets of Revolutionary Guardsmen and other Iranians involved in proliferation or terrorism;
• Make private-sector divestment from sanctioned energy companies easier;
• Crack down on the technology black market.
The next step is for a joint committee to craft a compromise between the House and Senate bills. That bill would then be voted on by both houses; then, Obama could sign it.
Obama supported the House bill … sorta. As Allison Hoffman noted last month, the threat of further congressional sanctions may be more valuable to U.S. diplomats than actual further congressional sanctions. That’s because much more effective sanctions could come from the international community—most likely in the form of the U.N. Security Council—and the White House believes it will have an easier time corralling reluctant countries (that is, Russia and especially China) if it has a bit more flexibility to offer carrots along with sticks, and if it can point to the potential for that kooky legislative branch to do something all crazy and such if the Security Council fails to get its act together. Plus, the sanctions the bill envisions could find themselves harming these other countries’ cherished energy companies, which likely will not endear them to yet further sanctions.
It did not take AIPAC long to send us its statement praising the Senate and condemning Iran, and adding: “AIPAC urges conferees to move rapidly in order to return the bill for final passage as soon as possible. This is an urgent matter.”
While the realpolitik-inclined may not share AIPAC’s sense of urgency, at least regarding these sanctions, they probably do share its desire for a nuclear-free Iran: the White House was on record approving at least the House bill; and so was dovish “pro-Israel, pro-peace” J Street, AIPAC’s bedfellow at last.
U.S. Senate Approves Sanctions on Iran’s Fuel Suppliers [AP/Haaretz]
Senate Passes Iran Sanctions Bill [Laura Rozen]
Plus Israel cracks down on (Palestinian) dissidents, and more in the news
Daily rate: $2
Monthly rate: $18
Yearly rate: $180
WAIT, WHY DO I HAVE TO PAY TO COMMENT?
Tablet is committed to bringing you the best, smartest, most enlightening and entertaining reporting and writing on Jewish life, all free of charge. We take pride in our community of readers, and are thrilled that you choose to engage with us in a way that is both thoughtful and thought-provoking. But the Internet, for all of its wonders, poses challenges to civilized and constructive discussion, allowing vocal—and, often, anonymous—minorities to drag it down with invective (and worse). Starting today, then, we are asking people who'd like to post comments on the site to pay a nominal fee—less a paywall than a gesture of your own commitment to the cause of great conversation. All proceeds go to helping us bring you the ambitious journalism that brought you here in the first place.
I NEED TO BE HEARD! BUT I DONT WANT TO PAY.
Readers can still interact with us free of charge via Facebook, Twitter, and our other social media channels, or write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Each week, we’ll select the best letters and publish them in a new letters to the editor feature on the Scroll.
We hope this new largely symbolic measure will help us create a more pleasant and cultivated environment for all of our readers, and, as always, we thank you deeply for your support.