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Embassy Row: Pressure on Iran

- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 23, 2013

The House and Senate this week advanced bills to broaden sanctions against Iran because of its suspected nuclear weapons program and continued abuse of human rights, as the theocratic regime in Tehran took steps to manipulate its June 14 presidential election.

The House Foreign Affairs Committee unanimously passed the Nuclear Iran Prevention Act, aimed at forcing another 1 million barrels of Iranian oil off the market and imposing penalties against civil rights violators.

"This bipartisan legislation the committee passed is the strong action we need to cripple the regime and prevent a nuclear Tehran," said Rep. Edward R. Royce, California Republican and committee chairman.

Rep. Eliot L. Engel of New Jersey, the senior Democrat on the committee, is the chief co-sponsor of the bill, already endorsed by 338 House members.

The bill is the "strongest-ever sanctions" against Iran, Mr. Engel said. The measure should "send a loud and clear message to Tehran: Give up your nuclear weapons program now or face uncompromising pressure from the United States Congress," he said.

Republican Sens. John Cornyn of Texas and Mark Kirk of Illinois introduced the Iran Export Embargo Act, which would go after foreign businesses still doing business with Iran.

"Put simply, countries and companies around the world would be forced to chose: Stop doing business with the government of Iran or stop doing business with the United States of America," Mr. Cornyn said.

Meanwhile, the exiled Iranian resistance released a detailed analysis of the presidential election, which its president called a "masquerade" after the ruling mullahs disqualified 678 registered candidates, including a former president who posed the greatest threat to the regime. The 12-member Guardian Council approved a slate of eight candidates.

Maryam Rajavi, president of the Paris-based National Council of Resistance of Iran, said the regime added more legitimacy to sanction advocates by its "contraction" of the field of candidates.

"Election masquerade settled with theocratic regime's complete and inevitable contraction. No solution exists within the regime, affirming the legitimacy and imperative of the regime's boycott and overthrow," Ms. Rajavi said.

The resistance's Washington office last week issued a 10-page analysis of the election, noting that the regime openly admits that it rigs the vote.

"The appropriate name for what is happening in Iran is the one the regime, itself, uses: 'election engineering,'" the analysis said. "In other words, despite its appearance, the only thing that is of no consequence and plays no serious role [in the election] is the people's vote."

EARTHQUAKE HOT SPOT

The Afghan ambassador in Washington was shocked when he saw the destruction caused by the killer tornado in Oklahoma.

"My fellow Afghans understand the devastating effects of natural disasters, and we wish a speedy recovery for those affected," Ambassador Eklil Hakimi said, offering condolences to those who lost relatives and property. "The people of Oklahoma and all Americans are in our thoughts and prayers, as they once again overcome adversity."

The South Asian nation is known as a "geological hot spot" for deadly earthquakes.

Embassy Row is published on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. James Morrison can be reached at jmorrison@washingtontimes.com or @EmbassyRow.

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