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Extension of Iran Sanctions Act Passes US Congress

The US Senate passed a 10-year extension of existing sanctions against Iran on Thursday, sending the measure to the White House for President Barack Obama to sign into law. As the voting continued, senators were backing the renewal of the Iran Sanctions Act [ISA] by 99-0.

IranIt passed the House of Representatives nearly unanimously in November, and congressional aides said they expected Obama would sign it when it reached his desk. The ISA will expire on Dec. 31 if not renewed. The White House had not pushed for an extension, but had not raised serious objections.

Members of Congress and administration officials said the renewal of the ISA would not violate the nuclear agreement with Iran reached last year. “While we do not think that an extension of ISA is necessary, we do not believe that a clean extension would be a violation of the JCPOA [Iran deal],” Reuters quoted a senior administration official as saying.

Leader of the Islamic Revolution His Eminence Imam Sayyed Ali Khamenei said in a public speech on Wednesday that the extension would breach the agreement and threatened retaliation.

“So far, the current US government has committed several violations with regard to the nuclear agreement,” Imam Khamenei told members of the volunteer Basij forces in Tehran, adding, “The most recent of them is the 10-year extension of the sanctions. If these sanctions are extended, it will surely constitute a violation of the JCPOA and they [the US] should know that the Islamic Republic will definitely react to it.”

Democrats who backed the accord said they did not believe the ISA extension violated the pact because it continued a sanctions regime that was already in place. They said they had not heard such objections from US partners.

“I have not heard strident objections from our key allies in the JCPOA,” Democratic Senator Chris Coons told reporters. The agreement was signed by the United States, Britain, Russia, France, China, Germany and Iran. Congress’ action did not address the fate of the nuclear pact, which was opposed by every Republican in the Senate and House.

Republican US President-elect Donald Trump railed against the pact as he campaigned for the White House. Many other members of his party, which also controls Congress, called for the new administration to tear up the agreement.

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker said the renewal ensures Trump can re-impose sanctions Obama lifted under the deal, in which Iran curbed its nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief. “Extending the Iran Sanctions Act … ensures President-elect Trump and his administration have the tools necessary to push back against the regime’s hostile actions,” Corker said in a statement.

Trump becomes president on Jan. 20. Corker has been mentioned as a possible Trump secretary of state.

Source: News Agencies

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