By Jim Kouri
A U.S. House of Representatives committee approved tougher sanctions on Iran on Wednesday, including the targeting of the central bank of Iran as part of a strategy to isolate the country from the global community.
House Foreign Affairs Committee chairwoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) said the effort, following Iran’s alleged involvement in the plot to assassinate Saudi ambassador on the U.S. mainland, is meant to “clamp new and tougher sanctions on Iran’s energy sector, threatening the regime’s existence if it refuses to halt its nuclear weapons program.”
The GOP sponsored legislation, which will in all probability pass in a House vote, requested President Barack Obama to target Iran’s central bank if he discovers that it was involved in supporting Iran’s nuclear weapons program, its ballistic missile experiments, or the funding of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards.
“I believe the central bank of Iran is not only engaging in those activities; I believe it is the ultimate engine of those activities,” said Representative Howard Berman (R-MD), one of the authors of the legislation.
The proposed new sanctions will be added to previous ones imposed on Iran last Summer by the U.S., which penalized international firms assisting Iran’s energy industry and banned U.S. banks from dealing with foreign banks linked to its Revolutionary Guards or nuclear programs.
The U.S. has been working on tougher sanctions on the central bank of Iran for a while. In October, U.S. Under Secretary of Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence David Cohen said at a hearing at the House Foreign Affairs Committee that the U.S. is seeking multilateral support in an effort to impose additional sanctions on Iran’s central bank, which, according to Cohen, will have “a potentially powerful impact on Iran.”
Meanwhile, Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said the popular uprisings in the Middle East and North Africa mean a loss for the United States, the satellite Press TV reported on Wednesday.
What is troubling to many in the United States is the image of al-Qaeda’s flag flying over the capital building in Libya. Also troubling is the recent slaughter of Christians in Egypt by Islamists believed to be members of the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafists.