The top Democrat and Republican responsible for foreign affairs in the US House of Representatives assailed the Obama administration’s recent Iran sanctions as weak.
The seniormost Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee assailed Obama’s targeted sanctions on Belarusneft, a Belarus energy company. The narrow action, the congressman said, shows US “weakness” instead of “strength.”
“We have once again imposed sanctions on a company that doesn’t do any business in the US, so the sanction has no more than symbolic impact,” said Congressman Howard Berman (pictured at left), the ranking Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, at a hearing on March 31.
“When we do that, I’m afraid we’re sending Iran a signal more of weakness than of strength, and we’re having no impact on their economy,” Berman argued. “Such impact is the very point of sanctions.”
Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, the Florida Republican who chairs the Foreign Affairs Committee (pictured at right), agreed heartily with her Democratic colleague.
She said that while the action against the Belarus company was positive, “the bottom line is that the State Department has not yet acted to fully implement and enforce our Iran sanctions laws.”
The Obama administration targeted a tiny country like Belarus, Ros-Lehtinen noted, but said that it did not sanction any companies from Russia or China. She urged that “in addition to going after the low-hanging fruit like Belarusneft, the State Department must impose sanctions against energy giants that continue to do business with Iran.”