In the same week that President-elect Hassan Rouhani will become Iran’s leader, the U.S. House of Representative passed a bill, 400-20, to impose tighter sanctions on the country, cutting its oil exports to hinder the “flow of funds” to its nuclear program, Reuters reports. The “Nuclear Iran Protection Act” adds to previous sanctions that already cut at Iran’s oil exports, which cost Tehran billions each month.
Enforcing the stricter sanctions will ultimately come down to China, the country that exports the most oil from Iran and opposes sanctions that don’t come from the United Nations.
“I don’t think the Chinese government will give in to this kind of pressure,” said an official with a Chinese refinery that processes Iranian crude. “There is no chance that Iranian supplies would come to a halt.”
The bill is at odds with the Obama administration’s plans to talk with Iran in September, Foreign Policy reports. Some experts believe the sanctions could even help Rouhani.
“Rouhani’s main theme in his campaign was that I am a better diplomat so I can negotiate better and lift the sanctions,” Mehdi Khalaji, a senior research fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, told The Cable. “I think continuation of pressure on Iran will help Rouhani to remain relevant.”
Fourteen Democrats wanted to delay the vote because it could “embolden Iranian extremists who seek to marginalize Rohani,” JTA reports. But Rep. Eric Cantor, with much support, disagreed.
“America’s policies must be based on facts and not some hope about a new government in Iran that will somehow change the nature of the clerical regime in Tehran,” Cantor said. “We must respond to Iran’s policies and behavior, not to its rhetoric.”