WASHINGTON - US lawmakers will introduce a bill on Wednesday that expands economic penalties against Iran and is designed to force countries like China to buy less Iranian crude oil, according to a copy of the legislation obtained by Reuters on Tuesday.
The bill is the latest attempt by members of the US Congress to stop the Iranian government from enriching uranium to a level that could be used in weapons. It comes as Iran and six major powers meet in Almaty, Kazakhstan, to discuss Tehran's nuclear program.
The legislation by House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Republican Ed Royce of California and the panel's top Democrat Eliot Engel of New York builds on existing US sanctions that have so far led to the devaluation of Iran's currency and slashed the country's main source of funding - oil revenues.
The bill would give US President Barack Obama additional authorities to impose financial penalties on foreign companies and entities that provide Iran with goods that are critical to its economy.
The legislation would also make it harder for Iran to get the resources needed to develop its nuclear program, by cutting off Tehran's access to hard currencies such as the euro.