By ANDREW MIGA | Associated Press Writer
WASHINGTON - The Senate on Wednesday approved a resolution urging the State Department to designate the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps a terrorist organization, a move aimed at bringing additional economic pressure on Iran.
The measure passed 76-22.
The proposal by Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., and Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., attracted overwhelming bipartisan support. But a small group of Democrats said they feared that labeling the state-sponsored organization a terrorist group could be interpreted as a congressional authorization of military force in Iran.
Sen. Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., was among those voting against the amendment. Dodd referred to the 2002 congressional vote authorizing the use of force that led to President Bush's decision to invade Iraq.
"We shouldn't repeat our mistakes and enable this president again," Dodd said in a statement.
Sen. Jim Webb, D-Va., branded the Lieberman-Kyl measure as Vice President Dick Cheney's "fondest pipe dream."
Lieberman and Kyl have said their resolution does not authorize the use of force against Iran. It was instead crafted to cut off financial support for Iran, they said.
"It is vital to the national security interests of the United States that the Iranian government not be allowed to prevail in its proxy war against us in Iraq," Lieberman said in a statement. "This amendment makes it clear both to our enemies and our friends that the United States will not retreat in the face of Iranian terrorism."
The Revolutionary Guard is training, arming, funding and directing extremists inside Iraq who are killing U.S. troops, Lieberman has said.
The Bush administration is considering wide-ranging sanctions against the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps' Quds force, which is accused of supporting insurgents in Iraq, by naming it an international terrorist group.
The Senate vote came one day after Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad addressed the U.N. General Assembly.
During a tense appearance at Columbia University Monday, Ahmadinejad defended Holocaust revisionists and raised questions about who carried out the Sept. 11 attacks. His visit this week has drawn thousands of protesters.
The Iranian leader has denied the chief accusations against Iran, that it is providing weapons to kill U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, supporting terrorism or breaking international law by developing nuclear weapons.