According to a report issued by the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), a group of senators has introduced legislation that would allow President Barack Obama to impose sanctions on foreign fuel suppliers to Iran.

U.S. Sen. Joseph Lieberman, I-Conn., organized the initiative.

“I’m very proud of the breadth of the coalition that has come together,” said Mr. Lieberman, who serves as chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee.

The legislation would grant presidential powers to impose sanctions on gasoline and refined petroleum imported to Iran. Mr. Lieberman said liberal and conservative members of the Senate supported the bill.

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The Obama administration is expected to oppose the legislation, titled the Iran Refined Petroleum Sanctions Act. Mr. Obama has launched a dialogue meant to reconcile with the Islamic regime in Tehran.

The cosponsors of the legislation, introduced on Tuesday, include: U.S. Sens. Evan Bayh, Barbara Boxer, Susan Collins, Russell Feingold, Jon Kyl, Barbara Mikulski, James Risch, Charles Schumer and John Thune. In all, the legislation has garnered 20 co-sponsors, both Democrats and Republicans. U.S. Rep. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., has introduced similar legislation in the House.

“We must not allow anyone to mistake our willingness to engage with the Iranians as a sign of weakness, least of all, the Iranians themselves,” Mr. Lieberman told AEI on Monday. “Yet frankly, that is precisely the conclusion that some in Iran and elsewhere in the region are drawing.”

Mr. Lieberman said the bill would amend the 1996 Iran Sanctions Act, which called for a boycott of companies that invest $20 million or more in Iran’s energy sector.

The new legislation would allow the president to sanction foreign companies involved in the sale of fuel, fuel delivery insurance and maintenance of Iranian refineries.

“The logic behind our approach is simple,” Mr. Lieberman said. “Although blessed with immense oil wealth, Iran – due to the economic mismanagement of its leaders – lacks the capacity to meet its domestic demand for gasoline and other refined petroleum products. As a result, it must rely heavily on imports for as much as 40 percent of its gasoline needs.”

Mr Lieberman said the proposed sanctions would reassure U.S. allies in the Middle East, under threat from Iran and its nuclear weapons program. He said both Israel and Arab states have agreed on the Iranian threat.

“In the Middle East today, there is an unprecedented convergence of concerns about Iran among Arabs and Israelis alike,” Mr. Lieberman said. “The question is whether we can seize this moment to help usher into place a new strategic architecture for the Middle East – not necessarily a formal alliance, at least initially, but a series of understandings, arrangements, and policies that strengthen the sovereignty and security of the states that

are being threatened by Iranian extremism and expansionism, and that can bind them closer together until the day they are ready to become formal allies.”

David Bedein can be reached at


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David Bedein
David Bedein is an MSW community organizer and an investigative journalist.   In 1987, Bedein established the Israel Resource News Agency at Beit Agron to accompany foreign journalists in their coverage of Israel, to balance the media lobbies established by the PLO and their allies.   Mr. Bedein has reported for news outlets such as CNN Radio, Makor Rishon, Philadelphia Inquirer, Los Angeles Times, BBC and The Jerusalem Post, For four years, Mr. Bedein acted as the Middle East correspondent for The Philadelphia Bulletin, writing 1,062 articles until the newspaper ceased operation in 2010. Bedein has covered breaking Middle East negotiations in Oslo, Ottawa, Shepherdstown, The Wye Plantation, Annapolis, Geneva, Nicosia, Washington, D.C., London, Bonn, and Vienna. Bedein has overseen investigative studies of the Palestinian Authority, the Expulsion Process from Gush Katif and Samaria, The Peres Center for Peace, Peace Now, The International Center for Economic Cooperation of Yossi Beilin, the ISM, Adalah, and the New Israel Fund.   Since 2005, Bedein has also served as Director of the Center for Near East Policy Research.   A focus of the center's investigations is The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). In that context, Bedein authored Roadblock to Peace: How the UN Perpetuates the Arab-Israeli Conflict - UNRWA Policies Reconsidered, which caps Bedein's 28 years of investigations of UNRWA. The Center for Near East Policy Research has been instrumental in reaching elected officials, decision makers and journalists, commissioning studies, reports, news stories and films. In 2009, the center began decided to produce short movies, in addition to monographs, to film every aspect of UNRWA education in a clear and cogent fashion.   The center has so far produced seven short documentary pieces n UNRWA which have received international acclaim and recognition, showing how which UNRWA promotes anti-Semitism and incitement to violence in their education'   In sum, Bedein has pioneered The UNRWA Reform Initiative, a strategy which calls for donor nations to insist on reasonable reforms of UNRWA. Bedein and his team of experts provide timely briefings to members to legislative bodies world wide, bringing the results of his investigations to donor nations, while demanding reforms based on transparency, refugee resettlement and the demand that terrorists be removed from the UNRWA schools and UNRWA payroll.   Bedein's work can be found at: and A new site,, will be launched very soon.