The US House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly Thursday, July 26, to extend for five years a 1996 sanctions order that curbs foreign investment in the petroleum and gas industries of Iran and Libya.
The decision in the lower chamber of the bicameral US Congress comes after the US Senate late Wednesday voted 96-2 to extend the sanctions against the two countries Washington considers supporters of international terrorism and the development of weapons of mass destruction. Both countries have denied the charges.
Minor distinctions between the two bills will have to be reconciled in conference before the final bill goes to President George W. Bush for signing into law.
The current sanctions regime, which expires in August, allow the US government to penalize foreign businesses with more than $20 million invested annually in either Iran's or Libya's energy sector. The level had been fixed at $40 million for Tripoli.
"The Iran Libya Sanctions Act... will play a vital role in our efforts to combat the terrorist agenda of these rogue nations by deterring investment by foreign corporations," said bill sponsor Benjamin Gilman, a New York Republican.
Concerned their hands would be tied by Congress, members of the Bush administration ― most notably Secretary of State Colin Powell ― urged the sanctions be extended only for a two-year period, but they were unsuccessful as lawmakers thought it would send the wrong message to Tehran and Tripoli.
Under the new law, the president has the power to waive the provisions citing the national interest and the administration must report to Congress on the sanctions' success in two years.
The European Union is among those who criticize the sanctions regime, formerly known as the D'Amato law. The United States ruptured relations with Iran in 1980 after a hostage crisis at the US embassy in Tehran, and imposed an oil embargo on the country in 1995.
Diplomatic relations with Tripoli are also frozen amid US contentions that Libya has not yet taken full responsibility for the 1988 bombing of Pan Am flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland that killed 270 people nor has it adequately compensated the families of victims. ― (AFP, Washington)
© Agence France Presse 2001
© 2001 Mena Report (www.menareport.com )