Senate passes Iran sanctions bill


WASHINGTON (JTA) — The U.S. Senate passed a comprehensive Iran sanctions bill.

The bill passed by voice vote Jan. 28 hews closely to a companion bill passed last month in the U.S. House of Representatives. White House requests to roll back some of the harsher provisions went unheeded.

The measures target Iran’s energy sector, singling out for sanctions any entity — individual, company or even country — that deals in refined petroleum with Iran, a major oil producer but with a refining sector in disarray.

Though the Obama administration has preferred to emphasize multilateral sanctions targeting Iran’s leadership coupled with diplomatic outreach, Obama is likely to sign a final version of the bill despite his reservations after the measures are reconciled.

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee, which led lobbying for the bills, urged swift passage and signing.

"Iran’s possession of nuclear weapons capability would be a devastating blow to America’s national security interests," AIPAC spokesman Josh Block said. "The U.S. and our allies must impose biting diplomatic and economic pressure to try and peaceably prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons and avoid confronting more distressing alternatives."

The bills allow Obama waivers for national security reasons. Obama’s predecessors have exercised such waivers with earlier sanctions bills.

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