Pro-Israel lobby backs sanctions on Iran bank

By DONNA CASSATA | December 7, 2011 | 12:32 PM EST

WASHINGTON (AP) — The powerful pro-Israel lobby is backing tough sanctions on Iran's Central Bank as Congress wrestles with an Obama administration request to ease the impact of the penalties.

In a letter Wednesday, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee said the sanctions would contribute to the U.S. effort to pressure Tehran economically and could dissuade Iran from pursuing a nuclear weapon.

Last week, the Senate voted 100-0 to add the sanctions to the defense bill. House and Senate negotiators are trying to iron out their differences and come up with a final version of the legislation.

The administration has asked for substantive changes to a provision that would target foreign financial institutions that do business with the Central Bank of Iran, expressing concern that it would drive up oil prices.