More than a quarter of the Senate introduced legislation Thursday that could raise sanctions on Iran and compel the United States to support Israel if it launches a pre-emptive attack on the Iranian nuclear program, defying President Barack Obama and drawing a veto threat.
The bill, sponsored by 13 Democrats and 13 Republicans, sets sanctions that would go into effect if Tehran violates the nuclear deal it reached with world powers last month or lets the agreement expire without a long-term accord. The measures include a global boycott on Iranian oil exports within one year and the blacklisting of Iran's mining, engineering and construction industries.
The goal, according to supporters, is to strengthen the negotiating leverage of the Obama administration as it seeks to pressure Iran into a comprehensive agreement next year that would eliminate the risk of the Islamic republic developing nuclear weapons. But it could also create added complications for U.S. negotiators, who promised Iran no new economic sanctions for the duration of the six-month interim pact that was finalized on Nov. 24 in Geneva.
Mark Dubowitz, a sanctions advocate at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, said the new economic penalties could cost Tehran $55 billion annually in lost exports of petroleum, fuel oil and other industrial products.
"This should be incentive enough for Iran, if it is serious about saving its economy from a deep recession, not to cheat on its nuclear commitments and to move quickly to conclude a final deal," he said.