US Senate votes near unanimously for Russia, Iran sanctions

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US Senate votes near unanimously for Russia, Iran sanctions

The U.S. Senate on Wednesday overwhelmingly approved an amendment that would strengthen sanctions against Russian Federation as a punishment for its campaign to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

The Senate said the new measures were meant to punish Moscow for Russia's violation of Ukraine's territorial integrity, cyberattacks and interference in the 2016 USA elections.

The Senate's Iranian sanctions legislation imposes new restrictions on Tehran's ballistic missile program, also aiming to punish Iran for supporting terrorism and human rights violations.

The administration of Donald Trump intends to work with the Republicans in Congress to soften the bill on the new anti-Russian sanctions, the media reports with a reference to a high-ranking source in the White House. Yet in a hearing this week, he said the administration would like "flexibility to adjust sanctions to meet the needs of what is always an evolving diplomatic situation".

To take effect, the measure would also have to pass the House of Representatives and be signed into law by Trump.

Senator Corker's Iran sanctions bill passed the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in May by a vote of 18 to 3 and now has 60 cosponsors. The two Senators that voted "no" were Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Rand Paul (R-KY).

"I think the bill is a very, very strong signal to Russian Federation", he said, having played a role in drafting its wording, "but it does provide the administration the flexibilities they need to conduct business".

USA intelligence sources have concluded Russian Federation attempted to interfere in the 2016 US presidential election, but they - despite encouragement by the national media and Democrats - have not tied the president to such attempts.

Obama's former secretary of state, John Kerry, had raised that prospect on the eve of the Foreign Relations Committee's vote on the bill last month. Brown also said the veto-proof vote on the sanctions package should send a strong signal to the White House.

Today's vote was the most significant blow the Republican President has received from the Republican Congress. "These additional sanctions will also send a powerful and bipartisan statement to Russian Federation and any other country who might try to interfere in our elections that they will be punished".

Additionally, and no less significantly, the bill mandates sanctions on any person or entity "that engages in a significant transaction with a person that is part of, or operates for or on behalf of, the defense or intelligence sectors of the Government of the Russian Federation".

The Trump administration is reviewing the Senate measure, S. 722, a White House official said Wednesday.

House Republicans are expected to review the Senate-passed sanctions bill in the coming weeks, an aide told Politico.

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