Sen. Casey to sponsor tightening of Iran curbs

By:  Daniel Malloy

WASHINGTON -- Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., plans to introduce a bill today that would further tighten sanctions against Iran.

The bill, to be co-sponsored by Sen. Scott Brown, R-Mass., would close a legal loophole concerning foreign subsidiaries of U.S. firms, bringing punishment to a domestic parent company if a subsidiary does business with Iran in violation of the 1996 Iran Sanctions Act. That law bans companies from investing more than $20 million in Iran's energy sector.

Iran has developed its nuclear program in defiance of international pressure, and the Obama administration has continued efforts to isolate the Middle Eastern power economically.

The Casey-Brown bill would build on the Iran Sanctions Act by denying tax benefits or use of any taxpayer funds to a company that runs afoul of the act and also would authorize the State Department to bar foreign officers of those companies from entering the United States.

The bill also would prompt a Treasury Department investigation aimed at shining a light on front companies for Iran's Revolutionary Guard, the military force that permeates the government there.

"U.S. sanctions which were signed into law earlier this year, combined with sanctions from the United Nations and U.S. allies, have had an impact on Iran's ability to develop its energy sector and Iran's access to the international financial system," Mr. Casey, chairman of the Foreign Affairs subcommittee with jurisdiction over Iran, said in a statement. "However, until Iran's nuclear weapons program has ended, we must continue to take measures to isolate Iran economically and diplomatically."

The classified diplomatic cables released by Wikileaks this week show Arab nations urging the United States to take military action against Iran's nuclear program, but Obama administration officials have maintained that economic sanctions have been effective.