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by
Bridget Johnson

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July 31, 2013 - 4:45 pm

The House today overwhelmingly passed a bill to broaden economic and human-rights sanctions on Iran.

The Nuclear Iran Prevention Act, introduced by Reps. Ed Royce (R-Calif.), chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.), ranking member of the committee, passed 400-20. Three Republicans — Reps. Tom Massie (Ky.), Justin Amash (Minn.) and Walt Jones (N.C.) and 17 Democrats, including Reps. Keith Ellison (Minn.) and Andre Carson (Ind.), voted against the bill.

“Iran may have a new president, but its march toward a nuclear program continues. The economic and political pressure on Tehran must be ratcheted-up,” Royce said. “Today the House took a critical step toward crippling this regime to prevent a nuclear Iran and the dire security consequences.”

“Congressional efforts to impose new sanctions should not be based on the Iranian political calendar,” Engel said. “Today’s vote illustrates that the paramount consideration of the Congress is the Iranian nuclear clock – the amount of time it will take Tehran to achieve a nuclear weapons capability. If President Rouhani truly has the will and authority to make a bold gesture on Iran’s nuclear program – such as suspending enrichment — he has a small window of opportunity before this bill becomes law.  I think all of us would welcome such a gesture, but until that point we will continue to pursue a path of diplomatic pressure on the Iranian regime.”

The bill aims to take 1,000,000 barrels per day of Iranian crude oil off of the market within a year, penalizes foreign persons who engage in significant commercial trade with Iran, expands the list of sectors of the Iranian economy effectively blacklisted to include the automotive and mining sectors, prevents Tehran from accessing billions in overseas foreign currency reserves, bars entry to the United States of vessels registered in countries that also register Iranian vessels or vessels operating on behalf of Iran, and stiffens penalties for human rights violators by applying the financial sector sanctions in existing law for terrorism and proliferation to transactions involving human rights violators.

“Iran continues to act with blatant disregard for human rights, safety, and the international community,” said Rep. Steve Pearce (R-N.M.), one of 378 co-sponsors on the bill.  “Today’s legislation, which I strongly support, addresses the plight of the countless human beings facing mistreatment, torture, and martyrdom within the country, as well as the threat Iran poses on a global scale should it be allowed to obtain nuclear weapons. We must never hesitate to stand against evil in any of its forms, and today’s legislation is a much-needed first step against a threat that is all too often ignored.”

“Iran’s recent election of a so-called ‘moderate’ president has done nothing to change two important facts: Iran is still pursuing nuclear weapons capability, and the Supreme Leader is still the leader and decision-maker of Iran’s military and nuclear program,” said Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Calif.), who introduced the legislation with Royce and Engel.

Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) urged the upper chamber to take up the legislation quickly.

It incorporates the Iran Sanctions Loophole Elimination Act, which was introduced by Kirk and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) in May.

“The message to Asian banks and clearinghouses is clear – if you conduct a euro transaction for Iran, you will be held accountable,” Kirk said. “Now is the time for the Senate to act. I look forward to working with my colleagues to swiftly pass a bipartisan sanctions bill that dries up all Iranian government revenue and reserves before the regime can achieve nuclear critical capability.”

“We owe it to the American people to exhaust all available options before the diplomatic clock runs out,” he added.

Bridget Johnson is a career journalist whose news articles and opinion columns have run in dozens of news outlets across the globe. Bridget first came to Washington to be online editor at The Hill, where she wrote The World from The Hill column on foreign policy. Previously she was an opinion writer and editorial board member at the Rocky Mountain News and nation/world news columnist at the Los Angeles Daily News. She has contributed to USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, National Review Online, Politico and more, and has myriad television and radio credits as a commentator. Bridget is Washington Editor for PJ Media.

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