The Senate Foreign Relations Committee Friday approved a bill to impose tough trade and economic sanctions against countries found to have used chemical or biological weapons.
The bill also authorizes sanctions against foreign individuals found to contribute to a country's efforts to use or stockpile such weapons.The administration opposes the bill, saying sanctions implemented automatically do not give the president enough flexibility in exercising policy. Officials hope to work out an accord on a separate bill being drafted in the House.
The sanctions bar imports from a country found to have violated international law barring chemical and biological weapons. Exports of arms or sensitive technology to the country would be prohibited and the United States would oppose loans or aid by international financial institutions.
U.S. banks would also be barred from making loans to the offender and the country's U.S. air landing rights would be terminated.
The president may waive the sanctions for nine months if he finds it in the U.S. national interest to do so.
The sanctions against individuals would include a bar on imports of products produced by the person involved.
Exports of goods or technology that would help a country develop chemical or biological weapons would be barred unless it had agreed on controls of the weapons or technology.
The bill states that as many as 20 countries, including Iran, Syria and Libya, either have chemical weapons or are seeking the ability to produce them. As many as 10 nations are working to produce biological weapons, it said.