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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

U.S. Congress Passes New Sanctions Against Iran

RIA Novosti

13:06 02/08/2012

WASHINGTON, August 2 (RIA Novosti) - The U.S. Congress nearly unanimously passed on Wedneday a new package of sanctions against Iran punishing insurance and shipping companies and banks which help Iran to export its oil.

The bill was approved 421-6 by the House of Representatives and the Senate passed it just hours later. President Barack Obama is now expected to sign it into law. The bill would add to the oil trade sanctions approved by the Obama Administration in December, 2011, which urged countries buying Iranian oil, including Japan, South Korea and India, to cut purchases of Iranian oil.

The newly-passed bill authorizes sanctions against companies and individuals that cooperate with Iran in uranium production, including those that supply oil tankers and provide insurance to National Iranian Tanker, Iran’s largest oil shipping company.

Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, chairwoman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said the “security and future” of the American people would be endangered if the United States failed to prevent Iran from producing a nuclear bomb.

“If we fail, it would be of no comfort to our ally Israel, whose very existence would be put in danger,” Ros-Lehtinen said during debates in the House on Wednesday.

On Tuesday, the U.S. Treasury imposed sanctions on Chinese Kunlun and Iraqi Elaf Islamic, foreign banks providing financial assistance to the Islamic republic.

The U.S. suspects Iran, already under four sets of UN Security Council sanctions, of pursuing a secret nuclear weapons program. Tehran insists it needs nuclear power solely for civilian purposes.

In the beginning of 2012, the 27-nation European Union, which accounts for 18 percent of Iranian oil exports, introduced an oil embargo on the Islamic Republic that came into force on July 1.

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