Senate approves sanctions on Russia and Iran

Senate votes nearly unanimously to slap new sanctions on Russia, Iran and North Korea, despite Trump's objection.

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Ben Ariel,

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The U.S. Senate voted nearly unanimously on Thursday to slap new sanctions on Russia, Iran and North Korea, Reuters reports.

President Donald Trump objects to the part of the legislation which targets Russia.

The Senate backed the measure by a margin of 98-2 with strong support from Trump's fellow Republicans as well as Democrats.

The bill will now be sent to the White House for Trump to sign into law or veto.

The House of Representatives earlier this week overwhelmingly passed the legislation by a vote of 419-3.

The White House objects to a key section of the bill that would mandate a congressional review if President Donald Trump attempted to ease or end the sanctions against Moscow.

According to the bill, Trump is required to send Congress a report explaining why he wants to suspend or terminate a particular set of the sanctions on Russia. Lawmakers would then have 30 days to decide whether to allow the move or reject it.

If Trump chooses to veto it, the bill is expected to garner enough support in both chambers to override his veto and pass it into law.

Republicans and Democrats have pushed for more sanctions on Russia partly as a response to conclusions by U.S. intelligence agencies that the Kremlin interfered in the election.

The North Korea-related sanctions bar ships owned by the country or by countries that refuse to comply with UN resolutions against Pyongyang from operating in American waters or docking at U.S. ports. Goods produced by North Korea's forced labor would be prohibited from entering the United States.

The sanctions package also imposes mandatory penalties on people involved in Iran's ballistic missile program and anyone who does business with them. The measure would apply terrorism sanctions to the country's Revolutionary Guards and enforce an arms embargo.

Earlier on Thursday, before the Senate vote, White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said the Trump administration continues to support strong sanctions against Russia, North Korea and Iran, adding "we're going to wait and see what that final legislation looks like and make a decision at that point."

Iran’s Revolutionary Guards have blasted the section of the bill that sanctions them, threatening to target U.S. military bases in the Middle East should it pass.