October 2nd, 2006 03:35 EST
Newly Passed Act Will Help Halt Iran's Weapons Program, Bush Says
Washington -- The Iran Freedom Support Act, which won final congressional approval September 30, will enhance efforts to halt Iran's uranium enrichment and weapons development programs and bolster U.S. support for democracy-building efforts in the country, President Bush says.
Senate action sent the bill on its way to the president for his signature into law.
The president welcomed congressional action, saying September 30 that the bill -- H.R. 6198 -- would codify current U.S. sanctions on Iran while providing his administration the flexibility "to tailor those sanctions in appropriate circumstances," and impose sanctions upon "entities that aid the Iranian regime's development of nuclear weapons."
The bill would provide the president the authority to waive the imposition of sanctions but require the president to certify to Congress that such a waiver is vital to the national security interests of the United States and to notify Congress 15 days prior to the termination of any current sanctions.
It also amends portions of the Iran-Libya Sanctions Act of 1996 related to Libya.
In remarks made before the House of Representatives passed the bill on September 28, its sponsor, Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, noted that the sanctions under Title II of the bill target Iran's energy sector.
"Knowledgable experts agree that for Iran, a fuel importer, sanctions could be crippling," she said.
The measure also would approve financial and political assistance for individuals, organizations and entities working to support and promote democracy for Iran. Such assistance could include the awarding of grants to eligible independent, pro-democracy radio and television organizations that broadcast into Iran.
This legislation "will facilitate America's support for the Iranian people in their efforts to build a just, free, and peaceful society," Bush said.
The House passed a similar Iran sanctions bill, H.R. 282, in April, but the Bush administration objected to some of its provisions. The Senate did not approve H.R. 282.
Ros-Lehtinen said H.R. 6198 "provides a comprehensive approach, providing U.S. officials with strong leverage to secure cooperation from our allies in order to counter the Iranian threat."
"[T]his bill is not an alternative to diplomacy, but rather complementary to our multilateral efforts," she said. "We cannot afford to wait any longer as the potential consequences of further inaction could be catastrophic."
Iran ignored a U.N. Security Council deadline of August 31 for suspending its uranium enrichment activities, a precondition for the resumption of negotiations on Iran's nuclear program and discussions about possible international assistance in building an Iranian civilian nuclear energy program. (See related article.)
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said in a recent interview that the United States is willing to give European Union negotiator Javier Solana more time to achieve a solution that would draw Iran back into negotiations before moving ahead with sanctions in the U.N. Security Council. However, she said, Iran's time is running out. (See related article.)
For more information on U.S. policy, see Middle East and North Africa and Arms Control and Non-Proliferation.
The text of Bush's statement is available on the White House Web site.
(The Washington File is a product of the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)