Sen. Mark Kirk is becoming Congress’s leading hawk on Iran.
Over the objections of the Obama Administration, Kirk and New Jersey Democrat Robert Menendez successfully preserved sanctions against the Central Bank of Iran during a House-Senate conference on the defense authorization bill.
"The Central Bank of Iran is the primary bankroller of Iran's global terror network, its nuclear program and other illicit activities. The time has come to collapse this terrorist and proliferation-financing institution,” Kirk said in a statement to The Cable, the blog of Foreign Policy magazine. “I applaud [House Armed Services Committee] Chairman [Buck] McKeon and Senator [John] McCain for successfully resisting most of the administration's attempts to weaken the bipartisan Menendez-Kirk amendment. Moving forward, the Congress will need to be more vigilant than ever before in holding the administration's feet to the fire to collapse the Central Bank of Iran and force international financial institutions to choose between doing business in the U.S. and doing business in Iran.”
All 100 senators voted for the Menendez-Kirk Amendment, which would forbid foreign financial institutions from doing business with both the U.S. financial system and the Central Bank of Iran.
Foreign central banks would be banned from maintaining U.S. accounts if they buy oil from Iran. The amendment is aimed at preventing Iran from funding a nuclear weapons program. Food and medicine are exempted from the sanctions.
President Obama is opposed to the sanctions, saying they could alienate countries that do business with Iran, making it more difficult to build alliances against the country. He also believes it could raise the price of oil, which might make his re-election more difficult.
Since joining the Senate, Kirk has also spoken out against human rights violations in Iran and created an Iranian Dissident Awareness Program, "so members of Congress can stand with the people of Iran."