Illinois' senators want tougher sanctions on Iran

December 3, 2011

(AP/Paul Beaty)
Ill. U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk (foreground) and Dick Durbin (background) agree Iran's central bank needs to be sanctioned.

Republican U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk is pushing for stronger sanctions against Iran. A bill unanimously passed the U.S. Senate this Thursday aiming to shut down the central bank of Iran.

Kirk said sanctions will help deny Iran the resources it needs for nuclear weapons and send a message about its poor track record on human rights.

"And my hope is that between sanctions and working with the dissident community we can bring about a new policy there," Kirk said.

Kirk is defending members of the Baha'i Faith who are being imprisoned in Iran and denied education.

"The Iranians are not only proliferating nuclear weapons and backing up Syria's Assad dictatorship, they're oppressing 330,000 Baha'is in their country - forcing them all out of university, denying any government contract with any Baha'i business," Kirk said. 

Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin joined Kirk in voting for tougher sanctions. He said he thinks earlier sanctions the U.S. has placed on Iran are already working.

"I think it's having some impact," Durbin said. "When the Iranian government turned loose the demonstrators on the British embassy this week, it was a signal to me that our sanctions are starting to be felt in Tehran and around that country."

On Tuesday, Iranian protesters stormed the U.K. embassy compounds in Tehran. In retaliation, Britain has ordered Iranian diplomats off its soil, pulled its diplomats out of Iran, and backed new sanctions on the Islamic republic.

The U.S. sanctions amendment still needs approval from a joint legislative conference made up of House and Senate members.