The U.S. Congress is moving to tighten sanctions against Iran, following
allegations that a plot to assassinate Saudi Arabia's ambassador to Washington
had Iranian backing. The House Foreign Affairs Committee has approved a bill
targeting Iran's central bank, oil industry, nuclear program, and security
Political pressure is building from U.S. lawmakers of both
political parties to boost pressure on Iran.
"The recently foiled Iranian plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to the
U.S., and to bomb the Saudi and Israeli embassies here in Washington
demonstrates the urgent need to abandon the illusion of the effectiveness of
more-measured sanctions," said Congressman Chris Smith.
Iranian President Mahmood Ahmadinejad this week said existing sanctions already
are hurting the nation's economy.
On Wednesday, the House Foreign Affairs Committee approved sweeping legislation
to tighten sanctions on Iran's financial, petroleum, and nuclear interests. It
also seeks to isolate Iran's security forces and boost the organizational and
communications abilities of anti-government demonstrators in the country.
"The nuclear clock is moving ever-closer to midnight. We cannot nibble around
the edges. We need a sanctions regime that is as bold as the Iranian nuclear
program is brazen," said
the committee's top Democrat, Howard Berman.
The Obama administration has supported increasing international pressure on
Tehran. But also has said it hopes multilateral negotiations to end Iran's
suspected nuclear weapons program will work. Iran denies involvement in any
foreign assassination plots, and insists its nuclear program is entirely