Iran sanctions bill advances


WASHINGTON (JTA) — A key Senate committee advanced new Iran sanctions.

The Senate Banking Committee on Thursday voted 18-4 to advance a bill authored by Sens. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) and Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) to the full Senate, although a number of the lawmakers who approved noted that the measure would not be considered by the body until March 24 at the earliest.

Menendez has said that Democrats will delay voting on the bill until then to give time for the talks between the major world powers, including the United States, and Iran on swapping sanctions relief for guarantees that Iran is not advancing toward a nuclear weapon.

March 24 is the deadline for a framework of an agreement; June 30 is the deadline for the final deal. The Obama administration opposes new sanctions now, saying that their passage would unravel the talks.

The bill adds new sanctions that would trigger if the talks fail or Iran reneges. A number of amendments that would weaken presidential discretion on implementing the sanctions failed.

A freshman senator on the panel, Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), said he believed the talks should stop because he believes Iran is untrustworthy and President Barack Obama is mishandling the negotiations.

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee, which backs the bill, praised its advance.

“The Kirk-Menendez legislation will increase the prospects for successful negotiations by making it clear to Iran that it will again face steep economic pressure if it stalls or fails to make the compromises needed to reach a deal,” AIPAC said in a statement.

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