Both the House and Senate are taking action to respond to the threat of Iran acquiring a nuclear weapons capability. In December 2011, the House passed the Iran Threat Reduction Act (H.R. 1905) by a vote of 410-11. The Senate is currently considering the Iran Sanctions, Accountability, and Human Rights Act (S. 2101), which passed the Senate Banking Committee by voice vote on Feb. 2. The Senate measure was introduced by Committee Chairman Tim Johnson (D-SD) and Ranking Member Richard Shelby (R-AL). The legislation incorporates key components of S. 1048, the Iran, North Korea and Syria Sanctions Consolidation Act of 2011, which was introduced by Sens. Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Joseph Lieberman (I-CT), Jon Kyl (R-AZ) and co-sponsored by 78 senators.
The bills would enshrine in law that it is U.S. policy to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons, escalate the level of sanctions against the regime’s human rights violators, and sharply tighten the enforcement of existing sanctions law.
1. Growing Threat
The International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) unprecedented and detailed report released in November 2011 provides the agency’s first public confirmation that Iran is closing in on the capability to produce nuclear weapons – a stark wake-up call that time to prevent Iran’s nuclear breakout is fast running out.
2. Sanctions Are Having an Impact
Sanctions on Iran’s ports and airline are putting extreme pressure on the regime and leading to economic disruption. The Iranian energy sector is also suffering as international energy firms and financial institutions refuse to work with Iran.
3. More Sanctions Are Needed
While sanctions are having an unprecedented impact on Iran, they have not yet reached the level sufficient to end the regime’s nuclear weapons pursuit. The United States should impose crippling sanctions on Iran, including Iran’s Central Bank.