Published: Fri, May 26, 2017
Global Media | By Abel Hampton

Senate panel OKs new sanctions on Iran; nuclear deal remains

Senate panel OKs new sanctions on Iran; nuclear deal remains

The United States Senate Committee on Foreign Relations has passed a bill that would impose new sanctions on Iran over its missile program that Tehran has repeatedly said is exclusively for defensive purposes.

"The bill passed overwhelmingly today [in committee] and I believe will pass overwhelmingly on the Senate floor", said the committee's chairman, Republican Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee.

But senators who oppose the bill are concerned it could undermine the nuclear deal.

The accord, which was negotiated between Iran and the six power nations to swap sanctions relief for temporary constraints on Tehran's nuclear program, requires the US State Department to notify Congress every 90 days on Iran's compliance.

Trump's administration, in a notification to the U.S. legislature last month, acknowledged that Tehran was complying with the nuclear agreement, but said it was launching an inter-agency review of whether the lifting of sanctions against Iran was in the United States' national security interests.

About 2 months later, is the time to start Trump's extendng sanctions relief; President of United States has the authority to extend it for 6 months; he has been committed to its obligations under JCPOA.

That concern was shared by the bill's opponents in the Senate, including Democrat Tom Udall of New Mexico. "So the first move of our government with this legislation is going to be to threaten the [nuclear] agreement".

Such concerns are unwarranted, according to backers of the sanctions.

So far, he noted, Iran has imported 360 tonnes of concentrated uranium, also known as yellowcake, after the implementation of the landmark nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which was signed in July 2015.

Corker said he would be willing to consider a sanctions bill soon after that if, as he expected, Tillerson does not demonstrate to the panel that there has been significant change by Russian Federation in Syria, where Moscow has been supporting President Bashar al-Assad in that country's six-year-old civil war.

The bill was introduced on Thursday, March 23, by 14 Democratic and Republican senators, including senior members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Both Republicans and Democrats have been clamouring for a response to Iran's ballistic missiles development and other activities. Democrats were not pleased at the delay, but said they were willing to wait to hear from the Trump administration.

"Are you talking about the people, [or] are you talking about this revolutionary leadership that is carrying out terrorism throughout the Middle East?"

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