FILE ID:96071704.ECO

(Administration prefers House-passed version)  (820)
by Jeanne S. Holden
USIA Staff Writer

Washington -- A bill to penalize foreign or domestic companies that
make a significant investment in Iran or Libya was passed by the
Senate June 16 by unanimous consent.

The proposed legislation will move next to a House of
Representatives-Senate conference committee charged with working out a
compromise between the Senate version of the bill and the version
unanimously passed by the House in June.

The Clinton administration supports the House version, which places
its toughest sanctions on Iran, State Department economic officer John
Struble said in a July 17 interview. Senator Alfonse D'Amato, a
Republican, and Senator Edward Kennedy, a Democrat, sponsored the
amendment to the Senate version that imposes equally strong sanctions
on Libya.

Like the Helms-Burton law that penalizes foreign companies investing
in Cuba, the Iran-Libya sanctions measure has come under attack from
U.S. allies, particularly in Europe, who say the United States is
trying to unilaterally foist its trade policies on them.

A June State Department fact sheet says, however, the aim of the
measure is "to respond effectively to the threat posed to U.S.
interests, and to those of our allies by the objectionable behavior of
Iran and Libya. Specifically, we intend: (1) to deny Iran the ability
to support international terrorism and to pursue weapons of mass
destruction by deterring investment in the development of Iran's
petroleum resources; and (2) to seek full compliance by Libya with
U.N. Security Council resolutions, including an end to its support for
international terrorism."

According to the State Department, both the House and Senate measures

-- impose U.S. sanctions against any persons that invest $40 million
or more per year in the development of Iran's petroleum resources.

-- impose U.S. sanctions against any persons that violate the bans on
trade with Libya established by U.N. Security Council resolutions.

The House bill also would provide the president with the discretion to
impose U.S. sanctions against any persons that invest $40 million or
more per year in the development of Libya's petroleum resources. The
Senate measure would make these sanctions mandatory.

"Congress should not compromise with terrorism," Senator Kennedy said
in a June 16 statement in support of mandatory Libya sanctions.
Kennedy urged the House to join the Senate in "this fundamental
principle" by making any sanctions that would apply to Iran apply to
Libya also.

Kennedy pointed to Libya's harboring the suspects indicted for the
terrorist bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, in
1988, in which 270 people, including 189 Americans, were killed.

"Foreign oil companies that traffic with terrorists should not expect
subsidies from the United States to help them produce oil in Libya,"
argued Kennedy. "Oil industry profits are not more important than
justice for the victims of that atrocity."

Under both the House and Senate measures, the president is required to
impose two or more of the following sanctions on persons or companies
that engage in prohibited investment in Iran:

-- a ban on Export-Import Bank assistance.

-- a ban on licenses to export controlled goods like technology.

-- a ban on loans exceeding $10 million per year by U.S. financial

-- a ban on designation as a primary dealer in U.S. government debt
and/or a ban on service as a repository of U.S. government funds.

-- a ban on U.S. government procurement.

-- a ban on imports of products selected by the president.

The Senate version requires two or more sanctions against persons
violating the U.N. embargo against Libya and one or more sanctions
against persons investing $40 million or more per year in Libya's
petroleum sector.

Struble said the president would have the ability to waive imposition
of the sanctions against persons or companies engaged in prohibited
activity with Libya or Iran under both the Senate and House versions.
To enact a waiver, Struble explained, the president would have to make
"a deliberate decision not to impose" sanctions. That, he said is a
high standard to meet.

According to the fact sheet, the president would be able to waive
imposition of the sanctions if he determines that such a waiver would
be in the national interest. The president would also be able to delay
imposing the sanctions in order to consult with other governments to
prevent or eliminate prohibited trade or investment activities.

"If these consultations are successful, imposition of sanctions will
not be required," the fact sheet says.

Sanctions would remain in place for a minimum of two years, the State
Department said. However, sanctions could be lifted after one year if
the president determined that the sanctioned person or company had
ceased the prohibited activities and had provided assurances that he
would no longer knowingly engage in such activities.