Tougher US economic sanctions against Iran approved
WASHINGTON - The US senate has unanimously approved tougher economic sanctions against Iran to force Tehran to abandon its alleged military nuclear programme.
The new sanctions targeting Iran's oil industry come days ahead of key nuclear talks scheduled this week in Baghdad between world powers and Tehran.
"This bill is another tool that will demonstrate to Iran that the United States is not backing down," said Robert Menendez, the Democratic senator who helped craft the legislation.
Republican Senator Mark Kirk, who co-authored the bill, said: "Today, the US Senate put Iranian leaders on notice that they must halt all uranium enrichment activities or face another round of economic sanctions from the US.".
The bill was first brought up Thursday but it was blocked by Republicans who wanted some of its parts further toughened up.
The new sanctions also target Iran's Revolutionary Guard and investigate its role in the export of oil from the country. The bill makes it mandatory for US-listed firms to disclose any Iran-related business to the authorities.
On the scanner are the National Iranian Oil Co and National Iranian Tanker Co.
The bill also aims to close a potential loophole in a similar bill the House of Representatives passed in December that could have allowed Iran to continue selling some of its oil using its own fleet.
The Senate and the House must work out their differences in the legislation before it is signed into law by President Barack Obama.
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