WASHINGTON — The Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted 15 to 2 today for a package of moderate economic and diplomatic sanctions against South Africa.
The Republican-drafted bill was adopted after the committee defeated several attempts by sanctions foes to dilute it.
But the Senate measure stopped short of a bill passed by the House last month that would virtually sever all U.S. trade and investment ties with South Africa.
Included would be a ban on new U.S. investments and bank loans along with a prohibition against importing coal and uranium from South Africa to the United States.
In addition, the committee added a ban on the importation of diamonds and strategic minerals to a list of options available to President Reagan one year from now if the South African government has failed to make significant progress toward dismantling its system of racial apartheid.
Only Two Opposed
Only Sens. Jesse Helms (R-N.C.) and Larry Pressler (R-S.D.) voted against the final sanctions package.
The committee chairman, Sen. Richard G. Lugar (R-Ind.), said he realizes that President Reagan may be unhappy with the sanctions bill on first reading.
"And I think that on the fourth or fifth reading he will be quite enthusiastic," said Lugar, without explaining why he is optimistic.
Lugar had resisted attempts to make the bill so strong that moderate senators would shy away from it.
He stressed the necessity of building the largest possible number of votes in favor of the measure to reach the two-thirds majority needed to override a presidential veto.
Linked to Nicaragua Rebels
It was not clear exactly when the bill will be brought to the Senate floor. Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole has said he will not permit a vote until it is clear the Senate also will be able to vote on the plan to give $100 million in aid to Nicaragua's contra guerrillas.
And it was not clear whether proposals to end the legislative gridlock on those issues would be accepted by all concerned.
Sen. Alan Cranston (D-Calif.), a leading sanctions supporter, said he would like to see stronger sanctions and would try to add them during Senate debate. But he added that sanction supporters "do want to pass a veto-proof measure."
The committee acted after rejecting a series of amendments offered by Helms that underscored his opposition to sanctions and his insistence that by hurting the South African economy the committee risked "handing over South Africa to the Soviet Union."
Signal to Whites
But Lugar said the sanctions were well chosen to send a signal to South Africa's white leaders that the United States expects negotiations to take place with black leaders to point the country toward a non-racial democracy.
The committee strengthened conditions under which the sanctions could be lifted or modified.
It did so by making one sanction--the release of black nationalist leader Nelson Mandela and other political prisoners--mandatory.