Reuters: A key lawmaker said on Wednesday he wanted Congress to impose new sanctions on Iran by the end of April in concert with tough, new international action against Tehran over its nuclear work. By Susan Cornwell
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A key lawmaker said on Wednesday he wanted Congress to impose new sanctions on Iran by the end of April in concert with tough, new international action against Tehran over its nuclear work.
"My goal is to get the bill to the president (for signing into law) in April," said Representative Howard Berman, sponsor of Iran sanctions legislation in the House of Representatives and chairman of the chamber's Foreign Affairs Committee.
"We (U.S. lawmakers) are going to act, one way or the other," Berman told Reuters. "I would like to know whether the international community is serious about this issue."
Ideally, U.S. action would be coordinated with other countries, so long as they were serious about it, Berman said.
Western powers want the U.N. Security Council to approve a resolution imposing new sanctions on Tehran. The goal is to pressure Tehran to give up its nuclear program that many suspect is aimed at making a bomb and that Iran says is for producing energy.
But China is resisting the sanctions drive. Some EU officials have said they need to be prepared to move rapidly to implement their own measures to rein in Iran's nuclear program if attempts to win U.N. backing drag on for too long.
Both the U.S. House and Senate have approved versions of legislation to let President Barack Obama impose sanctions on Iran's gasoline suppliers.
The two chambers must combine the two measures into one before it can become law. The Senate has named its members of the conference committee to do this, and Berman expected the House would name its participants this week or next.
There is concern the U.S. bill could backfire by antagonizing U.S. allies and trading partners. Berman said in December that he is open to creating exceptions for companies from countries that have their own robust sanctions on Iran.
He declined on Wednesday to discuss the ways the U.S. legislation might be adapted to a multilateral effort.
"I would like to be informed by knowing how tough they (other countries) are going to be. Are they going to ratchet up the pressure?" Berman asked.
A recent Western draft proposal for new U.N. sanctions did not include measures targeting Iran's oil and gas sectors. Some Obama administration officials have said they worry that too-sweeping sanctions might backfire by giving Iranian hardliners cover to crack down on dissidents.
(Editing by Cynthia Osterman)