Thursday, December 1, 2011

Dem. Sen. Robert Menendez rips Obama administration for opposing crippling Iran sanctions

U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez, D-NJ, today accused Obama officials of reneging on support for a bipartisan Senate plan that would help put pressure on Iran's ability to fund its nuclear weapons project, The Hill  reports.

He said the duo worked with administration officials to address their concerns and then combined the measures into a “fair and balanced” plan to stifle Iranian oil revenues. The resulting Menendez-Kirk amendment would prohibit any U.S. financial entity from engaging in transactions with any foreign government, central bank or other financial firm that does business with the Central Bank of Iran.

The Menendez-Kirk amendment is likely to come up for a vote Thursday, and is expected to pass easily.

Obama officials were highly critical of the amendment during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing Thursday, contending it would have the “opposite effect” of what is intended by driving other nations away from efforts to isolate Iran.

The officials also said the amendment would drive up the price of oil.

A visibly upset Menendez accused the officials of reneging on the agreement.

“I am extremely disappointed,” Menendez said, expressing bewilderment over why the officials in those meetings didn’t simply request that both senators scrap their amendments.

“You have rebuffed us every step of the way,” Menendez said, alleging that Congress has provided the very tools that have produced the success with sanctions against Tehran of which the White House now takes ownership.

“We need to cut off the fuel!” Menendez roared at one point.