By a margin of 414-6, the House of Representatives approved the Iran Sanctions Enabling Act, which will allow individual states and local governments to opt out of international investments that fund Iran. For months, the US has been on the verge of reprimanding Iran for developing its nuclear program, an action that many say threatens Israel. The bill's author, Massachusetts Rep. Barney Frank, says it ensures "that Americans who are deeply concerned about the prospect of Iranian nuclear power, and other aspects of Iranian governance, that they are able to act on those (concerns)."
In a press release, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) was quick to applaud the vote:
Facing the urgent and time sensitive need to change Iranian behavior or face even more difficult choices, the United States and our allies must exhaust every economic, diplomatic and political tool to pressure and persuade the Iranian government to end its illicit nuclear program as the U.N. Security Council and the International Community have repeatedly demanded.
The bill's overwhelming support indicates that another AIPAC priority, the Iran Refined Petroleum Sanctions Act, could also sail through when California Rep. Howard Berman re-introduces it later this month. As detailed in Robert Dreyfuss' story about the decline of the hard-line American Israel lobby in the September/October issue of Mother Jones, Berman tabled the bill in order to give President Obama a chance to pursue diplomacy with Iran. But in a Washington Post op-ed last month, Berman said that it was time for the United States to consider placing stricter sanctions on Iran and announced that he would re-introduce the bill.
As speculation about Iran's nuclear program mounts, this wave of sanctions will surely arouse international debate about US/Iranian relations and global nuclear non-proliferation. But first, the Senate must approve the bill.