US lawmakers stand firm on Iran
Republicans and Democrats in the US Congress are setting aside their differences in order to act as a united front against Iran and express unshakable support for Israel.
Lawmakers in the US House of Representatives are moving forward on a set of penalties against any foreign bank that does business with the central bank in Iran, after the US Senate passed the measure unanimously.
President Barack Obama said on Thursday that his "administration has systematically imposed the toughest sanctions on Iran ever."
But some lawmakers, including those within Obama's own party, say the administration has not gone far enough to protect Israel.
"Most of us know in the end that the forces in Iran are not going to go quietly into the night. We may have to send them into the night not so quietly," Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-NY) told reporters.
The Obama administration has said all options are on the table with Iran without further elaboration.
Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner submitted a letter to lawmakers on December 1 saying that the administration opposed the current form of the measure because it might undermine the efforts already imposed on Iran.
"The [Obama] administration does understand the centrality of this issue to forcing Iran. They would like to do it unimpeded by congressional mandates," Rep. Howard Berman of California, the top Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee said.
Representatives Howard Berman and Gary Ackerman are both well known supporters of Israel.
In 2011, Berman sponsored a resolution called the Anti-boycott Act (HR 2589) that prohibited Americans from boycotting Israeli goods.
Gary Ackerman became a well known advocate of military action in Iran when he authored the 2008 House Concurrent Resolution 362, which many believed came close to mounting a declaration of war on Iran.
Israel and its Western allies have sought to increase pressure on Iran after a report issued last month by the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) accused the Islamic Republic of seeking nuclear weapons.
Tehran slammed the report as "lousy intelligence," while Russia criticized it as "politically motivated."
Israel is the only Middle Eastern state known to have a nuclear arsenal, roughly numbering 200 nuclear warheads, but it is not a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).