US House-Senate panel approves Iran sanctions

Lawmakers agree to add flexibility in treatment of institutions trading with Iran's central bank, despite Obama's misgivings.

Obama making speech 311 (photo credit: REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque)
Obama making speech 311
(photo credit: REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque)
WASHINGTON - Leaders of a US House and Senate negotiating panel on Tuesday said they had agreed to compromise legislation imposing new sanctions that target Iran's central bank, despite Obama administration misgivings over the measure. They said they hoped to pass it this week.
The lawmakers, the leaders of armed services committees from both political parties, said they had made some changes sought by the administration. These added some flexibility in the treatment of foreign institutions that trade with Iran's central bank, Democratic Senator Carl Levin said.
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Levin told reporters the bill was probably "96 percent" the same as legislation that passed the Senate last week. It would penalize foreign financial institutions that do business with Iran's central bank, the main conduit for its oil revenues.
But changes were made that would allow the option of imposing restrictions on such foreign financial institutions, rather than cutting them off entirely from the US financial system, Levin said.
Click here for full Jpost coverage of the Iranian threat
Click here for full Jpost coverage of the Iranian threat
A waiver provision was changed as well to make it easier for the administration to allow exceptions for countries that have sought to cooperate with the United States in pressuring Iran, lawmakers said.
Still, Levin said, "we have written this language so it's tough. We want it to be tough" in an attempt to pressure Iran to give up its nuclear program. He said he hoped US President Barack Obama would sign it into law once it clears the House and Senate, which it is expected to do later this week.
The United States and its western allies have supported multiple rounds of sanctions on Iran, seeking to persuade it to curtail its nuclear work.