US senators take next step on Iran sanctions

Legislation would target Iran's energy sector, aimed at choking off funds Tehran is suspected of using to develop nuclear weapons.

January 31, 2012 06:08
1 minute read.
US Capitol building in Washington D.C.

US Capitol building 311. (photo credit: REUTERS/Jim Bourg)

WASHINGTON - Lawmakers on the US Senate Banking Committee plan to vote on a new round of sanctions targeting Iran's energy sector, aimed at choking off funds they suspect Tehran uses to develop nuclear weapons.

The committee released details of its 61-page bipartisan bill late on Monday and lawmakers will consider the measures and vote on them at a hearing on Thursday.

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"Iran's continuing defiance of its international legal obligations and refusal to come clean on its nuclear program underscore the need to further isolate Iran and its leaders," said Tim Johnson, the Democratic chairman of the committee.

The package comes on the heels of tough new embargoes by European nations and new banking sanctions that President Barack Obama's administration is beginning to implement - a package signed into law on Dec. 31.

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But Johnson and Richard Shelby, the senior Republican on the committee, said existing sanctions and embargoes have not done enough to force Iran to stop its work on building a nuclear bomb. Iran says its nuclear program is for civilian use only.

The House of Representatives has already passed companion legislation in mid-December with many similar provisions.

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