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House measure raises pressure on Obama over Iran

20 may 2012, 11:58
Photo courtesy of ebaumsworld.com
Photo courtesy of ebaumsworld.com
US lawmakers on Thursday adopted a sharply worded resolution warning about the dangers of a nuclear-armed Iran and urging President Barack Obama to increase diplomatic and political pressure against Tehran, AFP reports.

The resolution, which passed by 401 votes in favor and 11 against, warned that "time is limited" to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapons capability and called for "continued and increasing economic and diplomatic pressure" to prevent that from occurring.

It also rejected "any policy that would rely on efforts to contain a nuclear weapons-capable Iran."

In addition to the full suspension of all uranium-enrichment and reprocessing activities, the measure called for Iran's complete cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency, the United Nations' nuclear watchdog.

It also pressed for a permanent agreement that "verifiably assures that Iran's nuclear program is entirely peaceful" and declared that preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons is a "vital national interest of the United States."

"We must compel the regime to permanently and verifiably dismantle its nuclear program, abandon its unconventional and ballistic missile development programs, and end its support for violent extremists," said Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a Republican from Florida who also heads the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.

The measure was backed by the powerful American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) Jewish lobby group, which wields substantial political clout with US lawmakers.

Another group, the National Iranian American Council urged a "no" vote, saying it "significantly lowers the threshold for war with Iran."

The United States, Israel and much of the international community believes that Iran's nuclear program masks a weapons drive, a charge denied by Tehran which says its nuclear program is for peaceful civilian energy and medical use.

Washington has pursued a policy of pushing tough sanctions against Iran, while leaving the door open to a diplomatic resolution.

Similar legislation has been introduced in the Senate. It is expected to be taken up "soon," a source told AFP.

Thursday's vote comes ahead of talks between Iran and the so-called P5+1 group -- Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States -- in Baghdad on May 23.

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