Ms. Ros-Lehtinen and other House leaders have questioned the
effectiveness of U.S. sanctions on Iran and Syria. In recent hearings, the
lawmakers asserted that most of the sanctions were never implemented.
On May 17, the Treasury Department designated an Iranian state-owned
bank for sanctions. Iran's Bank of Industry and Mine was accused of helping
Iran's "proliferation activities" as well as helping banks that were
supporting nuclear and missile programs.
"Iran has a well-established practice of migrating illicit financial
activities from one bank to another to facilitate transactions for
sanctioned banks," Treasury Undersecretary David Cohen said.
Earlier this month, Ms. Ros-Lehtinen and Rep. Eliot Engel sent a letter to
Obama that urged the president to implement sanctions on Syria. The House
members said the administration has ignored penalties in the Accountability
and Lebanese Sovereignty Restoration Act, passed in 2003.
"To address the totality of the Syrian threat, I will soon introduce
bipartisan legislation that would strengthen and increase sanctions to deny
the Syrian regime the resources to threaten its own people, the U.S., and
our allies," Ms. Ros-Lehtinen said on May 18. "As it has done against
Assad and his cadre, the administration should immediately target Iran's
Khamenei and Ahmadinejad for sanctions."
In the Senate, members called on the European Union to join Washington
in sanctions on Assad. They said the Assad regime has "lost legitimacy."
"We urge our European allies and other partners around the world to work
now with the United States in targeting Bashar Assad with similar measures,"
a statement by Senators John McCain, Joe Lieberman, Lindsey Graham and Marco
Rubio said on May 18.