Senate Unanimously Passes New Round of Sanctions on Iran

The Senate unanimously voted on Friday to approve a new round of economic sanctions on Iran. (photo: codepinkhq via flickr)

Senate Unanimously Passes New Round of Sanctions on Iran

Sanctions "badly hurting the poor," affecting food staples for Iranians

The Senate unanimously voted on Friday to approve a new round of economic sanctions on Iran. While touted as being "tough" on Iran, the sanctions are set to bring further misery to the country, especially the poor.

The 94-0 vote passed on an amendment attached to the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013.

The sanctions are portrayed by politicians, in the EU and Israel as well as the US, as an attempt at thwarting Iran's supposed nuclear weapons programs, but Iran has maintained its nuclear program is only for civilian purposes.

"By passing these additional measures ending sales to and transactions with Iranian sectors that support proliferation -- energy, shipping, ship-building and port sectors as well as with anyone on our specially designed national list -- we will send a message to Iran that they can't just try to wait us out," U.S. Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ), who sponsored the amendment, said on Friday.

Iran war hawk Sen. John McCain added on the Senate floor before the vote: "The screws need to be tightened. The centrifuges are still spinning in Tehran."

Sen. John McCain: "The screws need to be tightened."In a sign of further misery to come to the Iranian people with this newest round of sanctions, Reuters reported earlier this week on how the already-in-place sanctions were "badly hurting the poor and turning some staples into luxuries," affecting food and medicines.

Reuters reports:

An increasingly shaky state apparatus will struggle to fill the gap often left by private companies, analysts say.

"If you are talking about the number of deals needed for a country of 75 million ... you do not have an organized overall strategy for finance, purchase and distribution. I do not think they can cope with the challenge," said Scott Lucas, a specialist in Iranian affairs at Birmingham University.

"Even if the sanctions were lifted, which is a huge if, the problems in the system are now so endemic I think they face real serious structural problems." [...]

Nevertheless, many foreign foods are hard to find and high prices mean Iranians cannot always afford even basic items. [...]

International trade sources say Iran is also having to grapple with a banking freeze, which has led to private traders cutting imports of staples such as grain and sugar.

In addition, national security analyst Gareth Porter points out that the recent IAEA report on Iran's 20% low enriched uranium, cited by Menendez in his remarks on the floor Friday, was misleading and widely misinterpreted. Porter adds that

Iran has been suggesting both publicly and privately throughout 2012 that it is open to an agreement under which it would halt all 20-percent enrichment and agree to other constraints on its enrichment program in return for relief from harsh economic sanctions now levied on the Iranian economy.

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