US Senate Democrats have emerged victorious in their efforts to block an anti-Iran amendment offered by Republicans in relation to a ban on purchase of heavy water from Tehran.
The Senate fell short of three votes Wednesday to pass an amendment to a bill that would have barred the United States from buying Iran’s heavy water.
Offered by Arkansas Republican Senator Tom Cotton, the amendment received 57 yes votes and 42 no votes.
The amendment was part of a $37.5 billion energy and water spending bill that had been stuck in the Senate over the matter.
Prior to the vote, the bill’s sponsor, Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), said a decision the bill would clear the path for it to move forward.
“I believe we ought to be easily able to finish the bill today,” he said. “I think we should finish it today.”
Last month, the US said it would spend around $8 million to buy heavy water from Iran.
The Republican measure was part of the party’s initiative to undermine efforts by the Democratic administration of President Barack Obama to negotiate a nuclear agreement with Tehran, along with other world powers.
This was the fourth time the amendment was considered in the Senate with Democrats arguing that it would earn the bill a veto from the president.
With the amendment out of the way now, Democratic California Senator Dianne Feinstein said the Senate was ready to move forward with the bill, particularly as Cotton had said he would withdraw it if doesn’t get enough votes.
“Both the chairman [Alexander] and I have been here for a long time, and we have been here when appropriations bills have passed, and the key to doing that is keeping poison pulls off the appropriations bills so they can pass quickly,” Feinstein said.
“How do we start this appropriations process with a presidential veto in the wings?” she asked. “I don’t think we do.”
Based on the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, reached last year between Iran and the P5+1 –the US, Britain, Russia, China, France, and Germany—Tehran can sell its heavy water.
Meanwhile in Iran, a top Foreign Ministry official said Tehran would exercise “caution” in selling Washington its heavy water.
Deputy Foreign Minister for Legal and International Affairs Abbas Araqchi, who was in Tehran Book Fair to unveil his new book on Wednesday, referred to earlier remarks by another Iranian official who had spoken of “caution” in dealing with the US.
“More caution is to make sure no issue is raised in the payment and caught in the rulings of American courts,” he said.