@SenatorWicker Votes to Strengthen Sanctions Against Iran, Russia

Republican Senator John Mc Cain has lambasted Russia saying it must be punished for alleged interferece in foreign elections including last year's US presidential vote

Graham, a South Carolina Republican who ran against Trump for the Republican presidential nomination, says the unanimous vote "should reassure our allies and give notice to our enemies that America stands firmly in support of North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and our Article 5 commitment".

"With passage of this legislation, the Senate reasserts congressional authority - while providing the Trump administration appropriate national security flexibility - and sends a clear signal to both Iran and Russian Federation that our country will stand firm in the face of destabilizing behavior and that Congress will play a leading role in protecting our national interests", added Senator Corker.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had encouraged the Senate to hold off on more sanctions, saying that he'd like more time to try and work diplomacy with Russian Federation.

It also aims to punish Russia's Vladimir Putin for interfering in last year's United States election, and to make it tougher for the White House to roll back sanctions. From the Senate, the bill still has to be approved by the House and then by President Trump to become law.

The Senate on Thursday voted 98-2 for new sanctions on Iran and Russian Federation, including new powers for Congress to block President Donald Trump from rolling back any penalties against Vladimir Putin's government.

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. Chuck Schumer of NY, the minority leader, said Wednesday.

The bill as originally introduced was exclusively about slapping new sanctions on Iran. 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. The measure also applies terrorism sanctions to Tehran's Revolutionary Guards and requires the enforcement of an arms embargo. Individuals who carried out cyber attacks on behalf of the Russian government are also targeted.

"This bill will impose sanctions on Iran for its non-nuclear violations", Cardin said. Sens. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Rand Paul of Kentucky were the only votes against the bill.

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.

Mr Putin said that Russian Federation would be forced to make changes because of the sanctions, but they would not lead to a "collapse".

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