Washington, D.C.- U.S. Senator Jim Risch joined with a bipartisan group of his colleagues earlier this week in introducing a bill to give President Obama explicit authority to impose the toughest sanctions yet to deter Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. The legislation would target Iran's dependence on imported gasoline and other refined petroleum products.
Iran imports as much as 40 percent of its refined petroleum despite its significant oil reserves due to a lack of infrastructure to meet its gasoline needs. The Iran Refined Petroleum Sanctions Act seeks to leverage that dependence by effectively banning any person or company that provides or assists in providing petroleum products to Iran from conducting any business in the United States. Additionally, any person or company providing equipment or technology to support Iran's domestic development of petroleum resources faces the same penalty.
"This legislation is a strong statement in persuading Iran that the U.S. and the world will not simply stand by as it continues to develop nuclear capabilities," said Risch, Ranking Republican on the Senate subcommittee that oversees Middle East relations. "It appears the only people who believe that Israel will allow Iran to complete the development and assembly of a nuclear weapon are the government and religious leaders in Iran. That misjudgment raises serious and potentially catastrophic consequences for the region and the world. While the Obama administration rightly seeks to negotiate through diplomatic means, this Act will provide the White House with a strong tool as they push Iran to drop their nuclear ambitions."
The Act extends the President's waiver authority for the new sanctions, allowing him to use the penalties at his discretion. When exercising the waiver authority, the President must certify that he is doing so in the "national interest of the United States."
Risch and 24 others signed on to the legislation that was originally sponsored by Senators Joe Lieberman (I-CT), Evan Bayh (D-IN) and Kit Bond (R-MO). The new sanctions authorized by the bill are in line with those adopted by the International Atomic Energy Agency and the United Nations.