WASHINGTON - The US House of Representatives passed a new
package of sanctions against Iran on Wednesday that aim to punish banks,
insurance companies and shippers that help Tehran sell its oil.
legislation, agreed to by senior lawmakers of both parties in Congress, "seeks
to tighten the chokehold on the regime beyond anything that has been done
before," said Republican Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, chair of the House
Foreign Affairs Committee.
It builds on oil trade sanctions signed into
law by President Barack Obama in December that have prompted Japan, South Korea,
India and others to slash their purchases of Iranian oil.
"There is more
we can do, more that we will do if Iran doesn't end its nuclear weapons program
verifiably and completely," said Representative Howard Berman, the top Democrat
on the foreign affairs panel.