House and Senate reach deal on new round of economic sanctions against Iran

WASHINGTON (AP) — House and Senate negotiators said Monday they have reached agreement on a new round of economic sanctions against Iran aimed at dissuading the Tehran government from pursuing the development of nuclear weapons.

The latest proposed sanctions against Iran focus on disrupting exports of gasoline and other refined petroleum products to Iran and banning U.S. banks from doing business with foreign banks that provide financial services to Iran's Revolutionary Guard.

The draft agreement, announced by Senate Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd, D-Conn., and House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Howard Berman, D-Calif., comes on the heels of both international and U.S. moves to punish Iran for its refusal to abandon its nuclear program.

The U.N. Security Council approved a resolution two weeks ago to strengthen sanctions and call upon individual countries and blocs of nations to expand their own sanctions regimes on Iranian individuals and organizations. The European Union followed with new sanctions, and last week the Treasury Department said it would restrict economic contacts with some three dozen additional individuals and companies alleged to be helping Iran develop its nuclear and missile programs and evade international penalties.

The House passed its Iran sanctions bill last October, and the Senate its bill in January, but Berman and Dodd said in May that Congress would wait until after the United Nations acted, in line with the Obama administration's policy of assuring that unilateral actions against Iran be complimented by multilateral cooperation.

The agreement needs to be approved by other members of the House-Senate conference, but it enjoys wide congressional support and is expected to move quickly toward final votes in the two chambers.

White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said in a statement that the administration is pleased with the "strong bill" that grants new authority to the president and strengthens a multilateral strategy to isolate and pressure Iran.

The legislation would add to existing sanctions by singling out for exclusion from U.S. markets entities involved in refined petroleum sales to Iran. While Iran is one of the world's largest oil exporters, it still relies heavily on imports for refined petroleum products such as gasoline and jet fuel.

It would also impose new penalties on foreign companies, including insurance, financing and shipping companies, that assist in developing Iran's energy sector. U.S. banks would be banned from financial transactions with foreign banks that do business with the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps or aid Iran's illicit nuclear program.

The measure would also provide a legal framework by which U.S. states, local governments and other investors can curtail investments in foreign companies involved in Iran's energy sector.

"A month ago we announced our intention to develop a powerful package of new sanctions against Iran that would substantially augment ongoing multilateral efforts by the U.N. Security Council and the European Union," Dodd and Berman said in a statement. "Our agreement does just that."


The bill is H.R. 2194.