Sen. Graham: Senate will vote on Iran sanctions bill

Marcy Oster

JERUSALEM (JTA) — U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said that the Senate will vote on an Iran sanctions bill next month.

Graham, who is expected to take over as chairman of the Foreign Appropriations Subcommittee when the Republicans take control of the Senate in January, met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem Saturday night.

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“I’m here to tell you, Mr. Prime Minister, that the Congress will follow your lead,” Graham said. “In January of next year, there will be a vote on the Kirk-Menendez bill, bipartisan sanction legislation that says, if Iran walks away from the table, sanctions will be reimposed. If Iran cheats regarding any deal that we enter to the Iranians, sanctions will be reimposed.”

U.S. sanctions currently in place target Iran’s energy and banking sectors, as well as any trade that might benefit its nuclear enterprise. Some sanctions have been rolled back, allowing Iran to retrieve about $5 billion of the $100 billion per year that the penalties cost its economy, according to U.S. estimates.

“You will see a very vigorous Congress, when it comes to Iran,” Graham said. “You will see a Congress making sure sanctions are real and will be reimposed at the drop of a hat. You will see Congress wanting to have a say about any final deal.”

Netanyahu also stressed the Iranian threat during his meeting with Graham.

“Iran today conducted an exercise with a suicide drone. I don’t have to convince you Senator that the most important task before us is to prevent this dangerous regime from having nuclear weapons. And I believe that what is required are more sanctions, and stronger sanctions. And I welcome your leadership in this effort,” Netanyahu said.

Graham also discussed the possibility of cutting off U.S. funding for the United Nations if the Security Council passes a pending Palestinian state resolution.

“Any effort by the French, the Jordanians or anyone to avoid direct negotiations between the Israelis and the Palestinians over the peace process, anyone who tries to take this to the U.N. Security Council, there will be a violent backlash by the Congress that could include suspending funding to the United Nations,” Graham said. “We will not sit back and allow the United Nations to take over the peace process.”