Mark Dubowitz is executive director of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and heads its Iran Energy Project. It appears that the US Congress has finally gotten serious about the Iranian nuclear weapons program. Possibly Obama will sign the new bill (?) And possibly the EU will help rather than obstruct (?)
This past week, 507 members of the United States Congress passed the toughest Iran sanctions legislation in history, with only eight members opposing. The bill, which President Obama is expected to sign this week is likely to create serious heartburn for Iranian leaders.
The Comprehensive Iran Sanctions Accountability and Divestment Act, which has now cleared both houses of Congress, lives up to its name. It is an exhaustive sanctions bill that targets the Iranian energy and financial sectors. Most of the legislation’s provisions were telegraphed in advance when the core of the bill, then known as the Iran Refined Petroleum Sanctions Act, initially passed the House and Senate in December and January. Representatives added more provisions during the conference committee, including sanctions on Iranian officials involved in serious human rights abuses, and tough measures against international financial institutions that do business with designated Iranian banks and front companies run by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.
While the original bills focused only on choking off Iran’s access to refined petroleum, two tweaks that occurred in committee have the potential to inflict even greater pain on the regime’s entire energy business — beyond gasoline.