- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 26, 2007

The House yesterday approved stricter economic sanctions against Iran, and the Senate moved to also denounce the country’s terrorist activities in a spate of activity coinciding with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s address to the United Nations in New York.

The House voted 397-16 to pass a bill that would expand sanctions, to further isolate Iran economically and thwart its development of nuclear weapons.

In the Senate, a separate amendment was introduced to the Defense authorization bill, calling for the U.S. to designate Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps as a foreign terrorist organization and imposing economic sanctions.

The legislation followed a speech Monday by Mr. Ahmadinejad at Columbia University in which he defended Tehran’s nuclear program and Iran’s hostility toward Israel, riling opponents of the leader who has called for the destruction of Israel and has denied the Holocaust happened.

“Iran faces a choice between a very big carrot and a very sharp stick,” said Rep. Tom Lantos, chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, who sponsored the House bill.

“It is my hope that they will take the carrot,” the California Democrat said. “But today, we are putting the stick in place.”

The sanctions would, in part, penalize foreign companies — including energy giants Royal Dutch Shell, France’s Total, Italy’s ENI and Inpex of Japan — that now do business with Iran without repercussions from the U.S., Mr. Lantos said.

The Senate measure also includes calls for action to stop Iranian support of insurgents in Iraq, but Sen. Joe Lieberman, Connecticut independent and the amendment’s co-sponsor along with Sen. Jon Kyl, Arizona Republican, said, “This amendment is not about starting a war on Iran.”

“It’s about responding with economic might to Iran’s war on us,” Mr. Lieberman said, noting U.S. military reports stating that Iran is arming and supporting anti-American Shi’ite militants in Iraq.

“Iran is trying to murder as many of our men and women in uniform in Iraq as it can,” he said. “Iran’s aggression in Iraq is part of a global pattern of aggression and extremism against our troops and our allies. It is a campaign of terror that stretches from Lebanon to Palestine, from Iraq to Afghanistan, and it is led by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps.”

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