Continued from page 1

Congress has overwhelmingly backed previous efforts by Kirk and Menendez, but the fate of the Senate’s defense policy bill is uncertain.

Democrats and Republicans have pressed for the Senate to take it up in the lame-duck session that begins Tuesday, but Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., wants both sides to agree on limiting the number of amendments, which could exceed 100. It’s unclear whether the two parties can reach agreement. As an alternative, the Senate may simply vote on a pared-back, noncontroversial bill that has been worked out in advance with the House.

Mark Dubowitz, a sanctions expert and executive director of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, described the wider economic offensive against Iran as much-needed. Existing sanctions have done damage, but Iran still has enough in reserves to remain solvent until mid-2014, well after Tehran could cross the “red line” of nuclear progress as outlined by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and embraced by some in Congress.

Even if Iran’s petroleum exports have declined to 1 million barrels a day from last year’s level of 2.5 million barrels a day, Dubowitz said, the government would pull in $37 billion in revenue next year — assuming a market rate of about $100 a barrel. “We’re still a long way from an economic cripple date,” he cautioned.

Associated Press writers Donna Cassata in Washington and Nasser Karimi in Tehran contributed to this report.