In a rare display of bipartisanship, the United States House and Senate voted overwhelmingly on June 24 to impose a set of tough new sanctions on the government of Iran in hopes of dissuading it from developing nuclear weapons.
All of New Jersey’s House members and both of its senators supported the moves against foreign companies that trade with Iran, supply weapons to its Revolutionary Guards, or deal with the country’s energy sector.
The bill passed the Senate by a vote of 99-0 and 408-8 in the House. It is intended to close loopholes in previous sanctions laws that were essentially ignored by former presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush.
Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) played an active role on the House-Senate Conference Committee that drafted the bill’s final version.
“I believe deeply that we must apply maximum pressure to the Iranian regime — that it is a growing threat to the region, the world, and a threat to its own people,” he said in a statement. “Tightening the screws on the Iranian regime genuinely advances the cause of stability and peace in the Middle East. These sanctions are an essential means to that end.”
“These sanctions come at a critical time, as Iran continues to flaunt international law and threaten the security of the Middle East and the entire world,” said Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ). “A nuclear Iran is not an option. We need to cut off the flow of money and goods into Iran that provide lifeblood for its nuclear program. It’s far past time that we say loud and clear, if you support Iran you will face consequences from the United States.”
Rep. Steve Rothman (D-Dist. 9) was one of four members of the House to introduce language requiring businesses with federal contracts to certify that they do not do business with Iran.
“We must use all of the tools available to us to ensure that we prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapons capability,” he said in a statement.
Rep. Rush Holt (D-Dist. 12) said in a press release announcing his “yes” vote that “the United States does not deny Iran’s lawful right to peacefully explore technologies for nuclear power, but the Iranian regime has provided just cause for skepticism about the peaceful nature of its nuclear ambitions.
“There is an international consensus that Iran should not attain nuclear weapons capability — a circumstance that unquestionably would accelerate a nuclear arms race in the Middle East, threatening both regional stability and the security of the United States,” said Holt.
In an e-mailed statement, Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-Dist. 11) told NJ Jewish News, “The dangers are well-known. Iran has long history of support for terrorist organizations and if Iran obtains a nuclear weapon, how long will it be before terrorist organizations around the globe have access to this technology? America and our allies will be at extreme risk.”
NORPAC, the New Jersey-based pro-Israel political action committee, applauded the sanctions’ passage. According a statement on its website, “We are grateful to those senators and representatives that worked so hard to move our nation in the correct direction to confront this danger to the world.”