Last Wednesday, the Senate overwhelmingly approved measures to toughen sanctions on Russia and Iran. Mixing two problems that are entirely independent of one another, now connected through these new sanctions against both countries.
A 97 to 2 vote, spotlighted Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky and Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, as rogue Senators.
Bernie Sanders explained, “connecting Iran to the Russia sanctions is not an effective way of dealing with the Iranian issues,” while Sen. Rand Paul said “more sanctions on Russia is not going to help us deal with these problems”. The new sanctions are on their way to the White House, which will need a signature from Pres. Trump, in order to find its way to Moscow and on to the desk of Vladimir Putin.
The measures, attached to the sanctions, dealing with Iran looks to tighten their abilities to deviate from the previously negotiated agreements. The other side of the measure requires Congress the special abilities to review any changes, before being enacted, that Pres. Trump might have on loosening any sanctions against Russia. It also indicated that it was targeting the “corrupt Russian actors,” who engaged in hacking, confiscating state resources, and human rights abuses in Syria by supplying arms to the Assad regime.
Trump now will be forced to make a public statement to Mr. Putin, by signing or rejecting the new measures, aimed directly at the Kremlin.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, as predictable, declined to comment or endorse the new measures stating, “constructive dialogue is what is needed”. Tillerson informed the House Foreign Affairs Committee, ” I would just urge Congress to ensure that any new legislation passed would allow, the magnificent and most powerful, Pres. Trump the flexibility that he needs in order to adjust any sanctions for whatever evolving diplomatic situation occurs or negotiations he may begin”.