Senate extends Iran-Libya Sanctions Act
- New York Times
July 26, 2001
Senate Extends Sanctions on Libya and Iran
By ALISON MITCHELL
WASHINGTON, July 25 � The Senate voted overwhelmingly today to extend
sanctions against Iran and Libya for another five years, rejecting the Bush
administration's efforts to limit the sanctions to a shorter time frame to
allow more diplomatic flexibility.
The 96-2 vote came after several lawmakers argued that any move to limit the
sanctions would signal a lack of resolve by the United States to combat
terrorism and states suspected of sponsoring it.
"It would send a signal that terrorism is O.K.," said Senator Charles E.
Schumer, Democrat of New York, a sponsor of the bill. He argued that Iran
had not stopped its support of terrorism despite the election of a more
moderate president, Mohammad Khatami. "It would be a signal that developing
weapons of mass destruction would be O.K.."
He called Iran and Libya "two of the world's most dangerous outlaw states."
The House was expected to vote on a similar measure next week, according to
a Republican official. In a nod to the Bush administration, the House
version calls for the administration to report to Congress on the
effectiveness of the sanctions 24 to 30 months after the bill's enactment.
But it does not include any mechanism for reconsideration of the sanctions.
The unyielding bipartisan opposition in Congress to reconsider sanctions was
a blow in particular to Secretary of State Colin L. Powell, who had sought a
shorter, two-year extension of the act so he could have more leeway in
future dealings with Iran and Libya.
The administration, in a statement of policy issued today, restated that it
favored a two-year extension of the sanctions to reflect its view "that
sanctions should be reviewed frequently to assess their effectiveness and
continued suitability." But those views have received short shrift, with few
lawmakers wanting to do anything that could be seen as a defense of Iran or
The sanctions against Iran and Libya, originally put into law in 1996, were
intended to discourage foreign energy firms from investing in Iran and
Libya. The law, which expires in August, gives the president the authority
to bar or reduce imports of goods from foreign firms that invest in Iran or
Libya. He can also block such companies from selling to the United States
government or obtaining more than $10 million a year in American bank loans.
Both the House and Senate bills make a change in the law to impose tougher
sanctions on Libya. The existing law is directed at companies that invest
more than $40 million a year in Libya's energy production. The new bills
reduce that to $20 million, the same limit as investment in Iran.
The act also gives the president several grounds to waive sanctions, like
United States national interest.
The law has long been opposed by America's allies in Europe. It is also
opposed by American oil companies that say they lose out to foreign
competitors. On the other side of the debate, the act was strongly supported
by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, which pushed hard for its
In the Senate, the support for the measure was voiced on both sides of the
aisle. Senator Paul S. Sarbanes, a Maryland Democrat, argued that Iran was
stepping up its efforts to develop and acquire weapons of mass destruction.
And he said Libya had failed to meet most of the requirements of a United
Nations Security Council resolution concerning the 1988 bombing of a Pan Am
flight over Lockerbie, Scotland, which left 270 people dead.
Senator Phil Gramm, a Republican of Texas, also endorsed the Iran sanctions
despite some signs of change.
"It's up to Iran and its people as to what course they are going to follow,"
he said, "whether they are going to be one of the responsible countries of
Get your FREE download of MSN Explorer at http://explorer.msn.com/intl.asp