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Senate approves new Russia sanctions

18 June 2017

The U.S. Senate voted overwhelmingly on Thursday for legislation imposing new sanctions on Iran and Russian Federation, and setting up a mechanism to force President Donald Trump to get Congress' approval before easing any existing sanctions.

The US Senate voted overwhelmingly on Wednesday to tighten sanctions on Russian Federation and prevent President Donald Trump from being able to unilaterally ease sanctions absent congressional approval.

The Senate also voted overwhelmingly on Thursday to add provisions to the bill allowing the U.S. space agency NASA to continue using Russian-made rocket engines and the 100 senators votedunanimously for an amendment reaffirming the usa commitment to the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation alliance.

The amendment to the underlying Iran sanctions bill maintains and substantially expands sanctions against the government of Russian Federation in response to the violation of the territorial integrity of the Ukraine and Crimea, its brazen cyber-attacks and interference in elections, and its continuing aggression in Syria.

Democrats pressed for and succeeded in adding a measure that would restrict President Donald Trump - whose administration has been entangled in investigations into ties to Russian officials - from lifting the sanctions unless approved by Congress.

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Last December, the Obama administration responded to Russia's provocations with sanctions on Russia's central intelligence services.

Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., said the overwhelming passage of the measure "sends a strong signal to President Vladimir Putin while ensuring the Trump administration has the flexibility it needs".

The White House is seeking to influence some GOP House members to ease up on the Senate-passed Russian Federation sanctions, hoping that the lower chamber will provide "administration-friendly" changes, according to Politico. The vote was 97 to 2 for the legislation, filed as an amendment to an Iran sanctions bill.

This new bill would also give sanctions imposed by then president Barack Obama via an executive order the full force of law.

The latest measure will be attached as an amendment to a larger bill that would see new sanctions imposed on Iran.

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As a result, Trump would have to reject new sanctions against Iran, which he supports, to derail the latest congressional effort to punish Russian Federation.

The Trump administration is reviewing the Senate measure, according to a White House official, who asked for anonymity to discuss internal deliberations.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson anxious about a potential amendment closing off channels to the country, but Tennessee Sen.

"We must not allow this kind of interference in our elections become a normal process", said Democratic Senator Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire. The sanctions, for example, could apply to any financial institution or any foreign company that provides key parts or components to Iran's missile program.

"I would hope to allow the diplomatic efforts to attempt to make some progress", Tillerson said earlier this week.

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