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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

U.S. Says New Iran Sanctions Not to Disrupt Oil Markets

RIA Novosti

04:21 03/02/2012 WASHINGTON, February 3 (RIA Novosti) - The Obama administration will take steps to ensure that new U.S. sanctions expected to be imposed on Iran in the near future do not hurt Washington’s partners and disrupt the global oil market, White House spokesman Jay Carney has said.

"We want to make sure that the implementation of those sanctions is handled in a way that does not inadvertently do any harm to our allies or to the oil markets," Carney told journalists in Washington.

"We believe there is a way to implement them appropriately that achieves the goal that those sanctions have, which is to further isolate and pressure Iran," Carney said.

The U.S. Senate Banking Committee approved on Thursday a sweeping package of tough new sanctions intended to force Iran to drop its controversial nuclear program. The new sanctions, which have yet to be approved by the U.S. Congress, target foreign banks that handle transactions for Iran's national oil and tanker companies, as well as foreign subsidiaries of U.S. companies that do business with Iran. They also include measures that directly target individuals and companies linked to the Iranian Revolutionary Guards.

Western nations suspect Iran, which is already under four sets of UN Security Council sanctions, of pursuing a secret nuclear weapons program but Tehran insists it needs nuclear power solely for civilian purposes.

Tensions over Iran's nuclear activities have reached boiling point since the Islamic Republic announced earlier this month that it had launched a nuclear enrichment program at a well-protected underground facility near the city of Qom.

Tehran has also threatened to block the Straight of Hormuz, a strategic waterway where an estimated 40 percent of the world's seaborne oil passes, in response to a European ban on Iranian oil imports due to come into force on July 1.

The International Monetary Fund has warned that sanctions on Iran by the OECD states could push oil prices up 20-30 percent to $140 per barrel unless alternative supplies from developing countries come on line.

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