The Senate voted Thursday night to strengthen existing sanctions against and impose new ones aimed at its gasolinesupplies as part of the effort to dissuade Teheran from pursuing nuclear weapons and cracking down oninternal dissent.
"We have all watched the Iranian regime oppress its own people on thestreets of and continue to defy the international community on nuclear issues,"Democratic Majority Leader Harry Reid said in a statement following a voicevote that approved the bill. "That is why it is so important that we movethis legislation forward quickly."
The measure would extend sanctions to oil and gas pipelines and tankers and imposenew sanctions on imports to of certain refined petroleum products.
It also would expand sanctions to cover a range of financial institutionsand businesses; impose a broad ban on direct imports from Iran to the US andexports from the US to Iran, exempting food and medicines, and require theObama administration to freeze the assets of Iranians, including Iran'sRevolutionary Guards Corps, who are active in weapons proliferation orterrorism.
"The Iranian regime has engaged in serious human rights abuses againstits own citizens, funded terrorist activity throughout the Middle East andpursued illicit nuclear activities posing a serious threat to the security ofthe United States and our allies," Democratic Sen. Chris Dodd, a sponsor ofthe measure, said in a statement. "With passage of this bill, we make itclear that there will be appropriate consequences if these actionscontinue."
has said its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes only.
Senate and House negotiators now must work out differences between theSenate bill and a similar measure already passed by the House. A final bill,once passed by both chambers, would be sent to President Barack Obama for hissignature.