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Deal with Iran, face sanctions: US lawmaker
Sridhar Krishnaswami in Washington, DC | March 07, 2007 08:56 IST
In an effort to curb Iran's nuclear ambitions, a leading United States Congressman will this week introduce a legislation that will require the administration to impose sanctions on companies and countries, including India, that strike deals with Tehran.
Tom Lantos, chair of the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee, also said that under his proposed Iran Counter-Proliferation Act of 2007, any nation that aids Tehran's nuclear programme will not be able to have nuclear cooperation with the US.
Accusing the Bush Administration of abusing authority under the present Iran Sanctions Act by waiving sanctions on oil companies, Lantos said the act will also put an end to the practice, saying, "Those halcyon days for the oil industry are over."
"If Dutch Shell moves forward with its proposed $10 billion deal with Iran, it will be sanctioned. If Malaysia moves forward with a similar deal, it too will be sanctioned.
The same treatment will be accorded to China and India should they finalise deals with Iran," Lantos said.
Iran's theocracy must understand that it cannot pursue a nuclear weapons programme without sacrificing the political and economic future of the Iranian people," he said, asserting that diplomacy with Iran does not stand a chance unless backed by strong international sanctions.
Lantos said the objective of his legislation is two-fold: "To prevent Iran from securing nuclear arms and the means to produce them. And to ensure that we achieve this goal in a peaceful manner."
Lantos said his legislation will increase exponentially the economic pressure on Iran, and empower our diplomatic efforts by strengthening the Iran Sanctions Act.
The Iran Sanctions Act (1996) requires the US government to impose sanctions on foreign companies that invest more than $20 million in Iran's energy sector.
"My legislation goes beyond the waiver issue. If a nation aids Iran's nuclear programme, it will not be able to have a nuclear cooperation agreement with the United States," the top Democrat said.
Lantos also said that import sanctions will be re-imposed on all Iranian exports to the United States.
"The Clinton Administration lifted sanctions on Iranian carpets and other exports in an effort to encourage Tehran to undertake a dialogue. It is self-evident that this diplomatic breakthrough has not occurred, and the favour offered to Iran will now be revoked," he said.
Lantos further said his legislation will also call on the president to declare the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps a terrorist group.
"The Revolutionary Guard and its Quds Force train terrorists throughout the Middle East, including in Iraq and in Lebanon. The Revolutionary Guard, which is a major base of support for Ahmadinejad (Iran's president), owns huge economic enterprises in Iran. Foreign banks will think twice about dealing with these enterprises once the Guard is declared a terrorist organisation."
"All of these actions will deprive Iran of the funds that currently support and sustain its nuclear programme," he added.
Lantos said he will also join with his Democratic colleague Barney Frank in introducing a legislation to limit pension fund investment in foreign companies that pour money into Iran's energy industry as well as Republican Ranking Member Ilenea Ros Lehtinen's leadership on the Iran divestment issue and other Iran sanctions legislation.
"The reason for this all-encompassing approach -- and for its urgency -- is that we have so little time. Iran is forging ahead with its nuclear programme, in blatant defiance of the unanimous will of the UN Security Council and the International Atomic Energy Agency.
"Before it is too late, we must try to persuade others to join us in increasing the diplomatic and economic pressure on Iran and, where necessary, we must give them incentives to do so," Lantos said.