Bill would strengthen U.S. sanctions against Iran


WASHINGTON (JTA) — U.S. lawmakers introduced a bipartisan bill that strengthens U.S. sanctions against Iran.

The Iran Sanctions Enhancement Act, which was unveiled Monday in the House of Representatives, is an amendment to the Iran Sanctions Act adopted in 1996. The enhancement measure would require the Government Accountability Office to publish a list of potential sanctions act violators every month, require the president to complete investigations of violators within 45 days and notify Congress of entities in violation of the sanctions act.

The amendment follows an investigation by The New York Times published Sunday revealing that the federal government has awarded more than $107 billion in grants, contracts and other benefits to foreign and multinational American companies conducting business in Iran. The probe found that $15 billion went to companies that helped Iran develop its oil and gas reserves.

While the U.S. government does prohibit most types of trade between American companies and Iran, multiple administrations have struggled to exert the ban over foreign companies and foreign subsidiaries of American companies. In theory, foreign companies can be punished for investing more than $20 million per year to develop Iran’s oil and gas fields, but punishments, such as withholding government contracts, have never been enforced for fear of angering U.S. allies, mostly in the European Union.

Reps. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) and Ron Klein (D-Fla.), with seven other Congress members, unveiled the proposed amendment. Other representatives supporting the bill are Shelley Berkley (D-Nev.), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), Leonard Lance (R-N.J.), Phil Roe (R-Tenn.), Ileana Ros-Lehitnen (R-Fla.), Loretta Sanchez (D-Calif.) and Aaron Schock (R-Ill.).

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