Obama enacts new Iran sanctions, despite opposing them

WASHINGTON (JTA) – President Obama signed a defense funding bill that included Iran sanctions he had opposed.

Obama on Jan. 2 signed the National Defense Authorization Act, which would sanction entities that circumvent existing banking sanctions on Iran by paying for Iranian oil with gold and restrict dealings with Iran’s ports, among other enhancements.

Obama administration officials had argued that the new restrictions would inhibit efforts to persuade other nations to adhere to existing sanctions that aim to force Iran to suspend its suspected nuclear weapons program.

Congressional negotiators gave the White House more time to implement the sanctions but would not further water them down. The amendments had strong bipartisan backing in both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives.

Prior to negotiations, the Obama administration had suggested that the president might veto the legislation because of a range of measures it opposed.

The National Defense Authorization Act also authorizes $211 million in new funding for Israel’s Iron Dome anti-missile system.

Israel says that Iron Dome successfully deflected some 80 percent of Hamas rockets aimed at Israel in its recent conflict with the terrorist group in the Gaza Strip.

The act also authorizes $267 million in cooperative missile defense programs such as Arrow and David’s Sling. Obama had requested $99 million.

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee had lobbied for the Iran sanctions and missile defense funding portions of the act.

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