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Fresh US Sanctions on Iran approved


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US Senate Passes Iran Sanctions Bill

WASHINGTON--Congressional lawmakers approved a further round of sanctions on Iran as American policymakers seek to increase pressure on Tehran to abandon its alleged attempt to develop a nuclear weapon.

The Senate approved the legislation unanimously after a House vote earlier Tuesday.

President Barack Obama is expected to sign the bill into law once it is sent to his desk.

Ben Rhodes, a White House deputy national security advisor, said on Tuesday the new bill would be "an important tool in adding to the sanctions regime we have in place."

The congressional approval comes a day after the Obama administration announced it was taking its own steps to tighten the screws on Tehran, and a month after the European Union banned imports of oil products from Iran.

The legislation expands the sanctions regime to firms that enter into joint ventures in the mining and petroleum sectors.

It would also slap penalties on any firm that offers insurance or reinsurance to either the National Iranian Oil Company or the National Iranian Tanker Company. Firms that provide oil or natural gas tanker ships to Iran would also be subject to U.S. sanctions.

Financial entities that purchase or are involved in the issuance of new sovereign debt by Iran would be caught by the expanded sanctions regime, as would any firm that engages in gold for oil or a similar transaction that enables Tehran to still profit from oil exports to the West.

Any companies found in violation of the sanctions would lose access to the U.S. market.

"At a time when Iran continues to defy the international community with its nuclear weapons program, it is critical we continue to tighten our sanctions regime," said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.).

Suzanne Maloney, a senior fellow at the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institute, said the latest bill would seek to close loopholes that have allowed Iran to get around the existing sanctions.

The Iranian regime has consistently denied that the various sanctions it faces is having any significant impact on its economy. It has also denied any ambitions to acquire a nuclear weapon, saying its program is aimed solely at developing a clean energy source.

Ms. Maloney said, however, there is clear evidence of rising commodity prices, particularly food prices, and there were indications of a growing public backlash against the impact of the sanctions.

"I don't think there's any doubt that there is a dramatic impact from the sanctions that have come into play over the last eight months," she said.

In the House, the 421-6 vote easily cleared the two-thirds hurdle required by the expedited method under which the House leaders brought the bill to the floor. But there were still some vocal opponents to its passage.

An unlikely duo of Reps. Dennis Kucinich (D., Ohio) and Ron Paul (R., Tex.) teamed up to oppose the sanctions legislation. Mr. Paul said there is no evidence that Iran is seeking to acquire a nuclear weapon and said lawmakers were "wasting their time" pursuing sanctions legislation against Tehran.


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The sad thing about all of this is, they probably won't have much in the way of a vocal opposition from the people either. Here in the US, if you scare the populace bad enough for long enough, they'll go along with whatever you propose to do, whether it's necessary or not, (see Iraq War) to preserve their false sense of security.

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