The US Congress approved tough new sanctions targeting Iran’s energy and shipbuilding sectors, a day after US President Barack Obama unveiled new measures to cripple Tehran’s nuclear programme.
The House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly,421-6, for the measure, which Foreign Affairs Committee chair Ileana Ros-Lehtinen described as the toughest sanctions yet imposed on the Islamic republic over its refusal to stop its nuclear programme.
The new rules – which target any person or company which works with Iran’s petroleum or natural gas sector, provides insurance to the National Iranian Oil Company, engages with uranium mining with Iran, or sells oil tankers to the country – passed the Senate by a unanimous consent vote.
“This bipartisan, bicameral agreement seeks to tighten the chokehold on the regime beyond anything that has been done before,” Ros-Lehtinen told the House.
She said the sanctions effectively put Iran’s energy sector “off limits”, and blacklisted any related unauthorised dealings, essentially “depriving Iran of hard currency and funds needed to sustain its nuclear programme.”
The legislation, which will now go to Obama for his signature, is a reconciliation of a bill passed by the House in December and one passed by the Senate in May. US Lawmakers were keen to move on the bill before going into August recess.
The bill reinforces sanctions passed last year by Congress that imposed penalties on foreign financial institutions that do business with the Central Bank of Iran and other Iranian finance firms, ultimately barring Iran’s business partners from US markets.