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Congress set to consider new Iran sanctions package

The Senate will soon take up a new package of Iran sanctions, which if approved, could force the administration once more to implement new punitive measures on Iran. On Thursday afternoon, Sens. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Mark Kirk (R-IL) introduced an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act currently on the Senate floor, obtained by ...

The Senate will soon take up a new package of Iran sanctions, which if approved, could force the administration once more to implement new punitive measures on Iran.

On Thursday afternoon, Sens. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Mark Kirk (R-IL) introduced an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act currently on the Senate floor, obtained by The Cable, that would blacklist Iran's energy, port, shipping, and shipbuilding sectors, while also placing new restrictions on Iran's ability to get insurance for all these industries. The legislation would also vastly expand U.S. support for human rights inside Iran and impose new sanctions on Iranians who divert humanitarian assistance from its intended purpose.

"We must prevent the Iranian regime from acquiring a nuclear weapons capability and make it U.S. policy to stand with the Iranian people in the face of oppression," Kirk said in a statement to The Cable. "This bipartisan amendment will greatly increase the economic pressure on the Iranian regime and send a clear message of support to the Iranian people."

The Senate will soon take up a new package of Iran sanctions, which if approved, could force the administration once more to implement new punitive measures on Iran.

On Thursday afternoon, Sens. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Mark Kirk (R-IL) introduced an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act currently on the Senate floor, obtained by The Cable, that would blacklist Iran’s energy, port, shipping, and shipbuilding sectors, while also placing new restrictions on Iran’s ability to get insurance for all these industries. The legislation would also vastly expand U.S. support for human rights inside Iran and impose new sanctions on Iranians who divert humanitarian assistance from its intended purpose.

"We must prevent the Iranian regime from acquiring a nuclear weapons capability and make it U.S. policy to stand with the Iranian people in the face of oppression," Kirk said in a statement to The Cable. "This bipartisan amendment will greatly increase the economic pressure on the Iranian regime and send a clear message of support to the Iranian people."

Supporters of the new sanctions language, called The Iran Freedom and Counter-Proliferation Act, argue that it would bring the U.S. in line with the European Union’s recent moves prohibiting the sale or delivery of various metals, coal, and software to Iran while increasing sanctions on blacklisted Iranian government entities as well as satellite providers supporting Iranian state broadcasting and jamming activities. The amendment preserves existing exceptions for the legal import of oil and gives President Barack Obama the ability to waive sanctions in the interest of national security.

"According to the latest report from the International Atomic Energy Agency, Iran continues to defy the U.N. Security Council by expanding its nuclear enrichment capacity," said Mark Dubowitz, executive director of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and head of its Iran Energy Project. "While recent sanctions passed with overwhelming bipartisan support in the Senate have had a crippling impact on Iran’s economy, we must find new ways to increase the pressure and stop Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapons capability."

Menendez and Kirk have a long history of successfully pushing Iran sanctions through the Senate above the administration’s objections. The existing sanctions on the Central Bank of Iran, which the administration has worked hard to implement this year, were originally proposed by Menendez and Kirk despite strong administration opposition.

Those sanctions passed the Senate by a vote of 100-0.

Josh Rogin covers national security and foreign policy and writes the daily Web column The Cable. His column appears bi-weekly in the print edition of The Washington Post. He can be reached for comments or tips at josh.rogin@foreignpolicy.com.

Previously, Josh covered defense and foreign policy as a staff writer for Congressional Quarterly, writing extensively on Iraq, Afghanistan, Guantánamo Bay, U.S.-Asia relations, defense budgeting and appropriations, and the defense lobbying and contracting industries. Prior to that, he covered military modernization, cyber warfare, space, and missile defense for Federal Computer Week Magazine. He has also served as Pentagon Staff Reporter for the Asahi Shimbun, Japan's leading daily newspaper, in its Washington, D.C., bureau, where he reported on U.S.-Japan relations, Chinese military modernization, the North Korean nuclear crisis, and more.

A graduate of George Washington University's Elliott School of International Affairs, Josh lived in Yokohama, Japan, and studied at Tokyo's Sophia University. He speaks conversational Japanese and has reported from the region. He has also worked at the House International Relations Committee, the Embassy of Japan, and the Brookings Institution.

Josh's reporting has been featured on CNN, MSNBC, C-Span, CBS, ABC, NPR, WTOP, and several other outlets. He was a 2008-2009 National Press Foundation's Paul Miller Washington Reporting Fellow, 2009 military reporting fellow with the Knight Center for Specialized Journalism and the 2011 recipient of the InterAction Award for Excellence in International Reporting. He hails from Philadelphia and lives in Washington, D.C. Twitter: @joshrogin

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