House panel OKs fresh Iran sanctions
The US House Foreign Affairs Committee has passed legislation that that would toughen sanctions on Iran over its nuclear work, reported Press TV with reference to AFP.
The bill known as the Iran Refined Petroleum Sanctions Act gives President Obama more power to ban companies providing Iran with gasoline, diesel and other refined petroleum fuels. It would also target firms that help the country import gasoline.
The new legislation would expand the criteria under which companies could face US economic sanctions under a 1996 law targeting investments over more than $20 million in Iran's oil and gas infrastructure, AFP reported.
The Senate Banking Committee is also scheduled to vote on a nearly identical bill on Thursday, which targets Iran's gasoline suppliers or those companies helping the country with its oil refinery industry.
The sanctions would affect the companies that build oil and gas pipelines in the country and provide tankers to move its petroleum.
Under the bill, the US government would also be banned from purchasing goods from foreign companies that are active in Iran's energy sector.
To force Tehran to bow to US demands on its nuclear activities, Washington has been seeking to toughen sanctions on Iran.
Iran only produces 60 percent of its domestic gasoline demand and imports the remaining 40 percent.
By cutting off Iran's import of gasoline and other oil products, the US seeks to pile up pressure on Iran over its nuclear work.
The bill to go to vote on Thursday has other provisions among which is imposing a broad ban on direct imports from Iran to the US and exports from the US to Iran except for food and medicines.
The bill will also demand that the US government freeze the assets of Iranians who are active in the country's nuclear program.
Iran rejects the allegation that its nuclear work has a military purpose and defends its nuclear program as solely peaceful and within the framework of the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT), to which it is a signatory.
Iran has been under US unilateral sanctions for nearly three decades.