A U.S. congressional panel on Tuesday approved a Russia-sanctions bill with language that may lead to tightened penalties against Iran's supporters.
The House Foreign Affairs Committee passed legislation by voice vote that would aim to punish Russia's annexation of Ukraine's Crimea region, in part by tightening enforcement of a 2005 law targeting suspected proliferators to Iran, North Korea and Syria. The 2005 measure authorizes Obama to penalize foreign individuals and groups suspected of supplying any of the three nations with sensitive materials covered by one of several export-control regimes.
"Russian companies have been sanctioned in the past for proliferation to Syria and Iran," but the State Department "has been delinquent in implementing" the 2005 legislation, says a committee summary of the bill passed on Tuesday.
The Ukraine Support Act draft would give President Obama 30 days to develop "a plan to fully implement the Iran, North Korea, and Syria Nonproliferation Act, including sanctions against Russian companies," according to the report on the bill, introduced by panel Chairman Ed Royce (R-Calif.) and Ranking Member Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.).
A House Foreign Relations Committee spokesman did not respond to requests for details on the bill's intended targets. But the legislation text specifically identifies Rosoboronexport, a sanctioned Russian firm accused of supplying Iran with possible components for its missile program.
Congressional efforts to ramp up Iran sanctions have taken on particular sensitivity amid multilateral negotiations on the Middle Eastern nation's nuclear program. The United States and five other governments are seeking to address fears that Tehran's nuclear program is geared toward arms development, and Iran has threatened to pull out of discussions in response to new sanctions in coming months.
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee decided earlier in March against including a separate Iran-sanctions proposal in a Ukraine aid bill it was considering.