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New Iran Sanctions Passes Key Vote in U.S. Senate; New Russian Sanctions Possible

  • Mike Eckel

An Iranian Zelzal-3 ballistic missile test

WASHINGTON -- The U.S. Senate has advanced a package of new sanctions on Iran, to punish Tehran for its ballistic missile program, arms transfers and support for militant groups in the Middle East.

Senators voted 97-2 on a procedural measure on June 7 that sets up a final vote in the coming days.

The bill would sanction people involved in Iran's ballistic missile program and anyone who does business with them. The measure also would apply financial and other restrictions on the Revolutionary Guards and enforce an arms embargo.

Before the vote, several senators had urged a delay, arguing that the timing was inappropriate because of the terrorist attacks that killed 12 people in Tehran.

Meanwhile, a growing number of senators signaled support for new sanctions on Russia, legislation that would likely be attached to the Iran bill.

Amid mounting alarm about Russia's alleged meddling last year's presidential election, congressional Democrats and many Republicans have been pushing to add to sanctions that were imposed three years ago for Moscow's annexation of Ukraine Crimea Peninsula.

Several overlapping measures have circulated in the Senate in recent days that would, among other things, cement existing sanctions, making it harder for the White House to lift them unilaterally.

Others aim to tighten restrictions on the Russian intelligence, energy, and defense sectors, and possibly also target Russia’s mining, metals and railways industries.

Some lawmakers have also worried about President Donald Trump's mixed messages about Russia.

Some of Trump's leading Cabinet members have called for a tough approach to Moscow, and want to keep sanctions in place. Trump and some close advisers, however, have called for more cooperation with Moscow.

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