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Dick Lugar’s Iran problem, Part 2: 2001 – one of only two Senators to oppose Iran-Libya Sanctions Act

Dick Lugar’s Iran problem, Part 2: 2001 – one of only two Senators to oppose Iran-Libya Sanctions Act

Dick Lugar’s record on Iran (and Middle East policy in general) has not received as much attention as other Lugar failures, such as his vouching for Obama’s foreign policy credentials just three weeks before the 2008 election.

Lugar consistently has shown what generously could be characterized as wishful thinking about negotiations with the Iranian regime.  Lugar’s Iran history deserves the attention of voters in the run-up to the May 8 primary election, since Lugar’s foreign policy credentials are considered his strength.

In Part 1 of this series, Dick Lugar’s Iran problem: 1998 – one of only four Senators to oppose Iran Missile Sanctions Act, I explored Lugar’s failure to support bipartisan measures to sanctions companies assisting Iran’s missile program.

Just three years later, in July 2001, Lugar was one of only two Senators (along with Chuck Hagel) to oppose extension of the Iran-Libya Sanctions Act.

The ILSA was enacted in 1996 with a 5-year sunset provision.  The ILSA was meant to sanction companies assisting in the development of the Iranian oil industry.  The ILSA wasn’t a particularly effective law, as no companies ever were sanctioned, but it did provide at least a mechanism to identify and monitor violators.

The renewal of the ILSA was not particularly controversial.  Both political parties and President George W. Bush wanted the ILSA extended.

Yet Dick Lugar was only one of two Senators to vote against the extension.  The vote in the Senate was 96-2.

On August 3, 2001, President Bush signed the bill into law:

With respect to Iran, we continue to have serious concerns over its support for terrorism, opposition to the Middle East peace process, and pursuit of weapons of mass destruction. I hope that the Iranian people’s recently expressed desire for a freer, more open, and more prosperous society will give our two countries an opportunity to identify areas where our interests converge, and where we can work together constructively for our mutual benefit.


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