WASHINGTON (JTA) — The chairman of the U.S. Senate Banking Committee announced plans to introduce Iran sanctions legislation.
The proposed legislation announced Tuesday by Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) matches a similar bill in the U.S. House of Representatives that would target Iran’s energy sector and the export of refined petroleum to the Islamic Republic, among other measures.
Dodd, who sponsored similar legislation in the last Congress, in a statement on the Senate floor framed the enhancement of sanctions against last week’s revelation that Iran was running a second secret uranium enrichment plant near Qom, a holy city.
Dodd referred to negotiations to be launched Thursday between Iran and the United States and other Western powers aimed at having Iran end its suspected nuclear weapons program.
"This week’s negotiations should confront Iran’s leaders with a clear choice: end illegitimate efforts to enrich uranium, halt proliferation efforts, and stop support for terrorists around the world — or continue to deepen Iran’s isolation and ruin its economy," Dodd said.
His announcement comes just days after U.S. Rep. Howard Berman (D-Calif.), the chairman of the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee, said he would advance the matching legislation through his committee. Berman had held up the legislation until now, apparently seeking a signal from the Obama administration that it was ready to countenance such sanctions.
The Obama administration reportedly is ready to move ahead with sanctions as soon as December, either through the United Nations Security Council or in coordination with Europe.