US Senate unanimously approves new Iran sanctions bill
LAST UPDATED: 05/22/2012 02:18
Days ahead of Baghdad meeting between Iran and world powers, US lawmakers pass legislation targeting Islamic Republic's oil sector in order to send Tehran message that "buying time is just not going to work."
The US Senate gave unanimous approval on Monday to a package of new economic sanctions on Iran's oil sector just days ahead of a meeting in Baghdad between major world powers and Tehran.
The US House of Representatives passed its version of the bill in December and now the Senate and House must work out their differences in the legislation.
"This bill is another tool that will demonstrate to Iran that the United States is not backing down," Robert Menendez, the Democratic senator who helped craft the legislation, said on the Senate floor.
Passing the bill ahead of the Baghdad meeting shows Iran that "buying time ... is just not going to work," Menendez said.
The new package would extend sanctions to cover dealings with the National Iranian Oil Co and National Iranian Tanker Co, aiming to close a potential loophole that could have allowed Tehran, the world's third-largest petroleum exporter, to continue selling some of its oil.
The Senate bill was brought up on Thursday but was blocked by Republicans who wanted some parts toughened up. Senator John McCain said the revised bill shows "we need a comprehensive policy" to include economic sanctions, diplomacy, military planning capabilities and options.
Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said the revisions show Iran "that all options are on the table, in order to prevent any contrary perception that silence on the use of force would have created."
Moscow 'assumes' its companies operating in Islamic Republic will not be hurt by fresh American sanctions News agencies
Moscow warned Washington on Tuesday of "severe repercussions" on the relations between the two superpowers should Russian companies operating in Iran be affected by the new American sanctions imposed on the Islamic Republic.
"We assume that (Russian) companies which do violate the restrictions imposed by the UN Security Council (on Iran) will not be affected by the anti-Iranian American laws," the Russian Foreign Ministry said.
About a week ago the US Senate unanimously approved on Monday a package of new economic Iran's oil sector.
Also on Tuesday, Russia's state atomic agency Rosatom said it is ready to help Iran build another unit at the Bushehr nuclear power plant.
Rosatom is prepared to offer Iran support on the project "if it is not banned and if it is profitable, if the project is developed," Interfax news agency quoted Rosatom deputy head Nikolai Spassky as saying.