Senate Votes 98-2 to Impose New Sanctions on Iran, Russia

The Senate maintains that the Iran sanctions that target its ballistic missile programme, destabilizing activities in the region and support for terrorist groups do not violate the Iran nuclear deal, which saw an easing of other sanctions.

The Trump administration reportedly is weighing the return of Russian compounds on USA soil seized by the Obama administration, and the president has repeatedly expressed a desire for better relations with Moscow while downplaying the impact of Russia's cyber activities. However, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson seemed to push back at the legislation Wednesday at a House hearing.

The bill penalizes Moscow for interfering in the 2016 election by imposing sanctions on key sectors of Russia's economy, including mining, metals, shipping and railways.

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In a rare show of bipartisanship on foreign policy, the Senate voted overwhelmingly on Thursday for a bill that would toughen sanctions on Russian Federation for interfering in the 2016 US elections, as well slap new sanctions on Iran for efforts to expand its long range missile program.

Senate Foreign Relations chairman Bob Corker had pumped the breaks on the Russian Federation sanctions bill weeks ago, per the request of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. Republicans and Democrats have said they doubt Trump would veto the bill.

"We must not allow this kind of interference in our elections become a normal process", said Democratic Senator Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire. In a series of tweets, Kerry urged lawmakers to "tread carefully" in pushing ahead with new Iran sanctions in the wake of President Hassan Rouhani's re-election to another four-year term.

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The bill isn't yet law - it first has to pass the House of Representatives and be signed by Trump - but still, it sends a message that Congress does not want Trump to act unilaterally on Russian sanctions. "Russians guilty of conducting cyber attacks or supplying weapons to Syria's government", according to Reuters. The measure also applies terrorism sanctions to Tehran's Revolutionary Guards and requires the enforcement of an arms embargo.

Asked where Tillerson stood on the legislation, Corker said he wasn't sure, but noted that the bill "strikes a great balance" between executive and legislative power. Senators Rand Paul and Bernie Sanders were the only two "no" votes.

Sen. Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, the chairman of the Banking Committee, said the legislation expands the Ukraine-related sanctions to ban Western companies from being involved in Russian energy exploration projects in the Arctic and elsewhere.

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