Congressional negotiators reach deal on new Iran sanctions (REUTERS) By Roberta Rampton WASHINGTON 07/30/12 11:38pm EDT)
Reuters News Service
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(Reuters) - U.S. lawmakers moved a step closer to finalizing new
sanctions aimed at further restricting Iran´s oil revenues after
negotiators from the Senate and House of Representatives agreed on a
compromise bill on Monday.
The bill includes several new provisions seeking to crack down on
those who ship or insure Iranian oil cargoes, or who pay for oil
using gold. It also seeks to curtail efforts to evade sanctions by
reflagging ships or turning off tracking systems.
It aims as well to stop Iran from repatriating revenues from oil
sales, which would further squeeze government funds.
If passed, the sanctions would add further pressure on top of
penalties imposed by the United States and European Union earlier
this year on countries that fail to slash purchases of Iranian oil -
sanctions the West hopes will prevent Tehran from building nuclear
"The expanded energy sanctions contained in this critical legislation
effectively blacklist the Iranian energy sector and anyone doing
business with it," Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, the Republican chairman of
the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said in a statement.
Iran has maintained its nuclear program is for civilian purposes. Its
economy has been damaged by existing sanctions and its oil production
has slipped to the lowest level since 1988.
"Unless (Iranian leaders) come clean on their nuclear program, end
the suppression of their people, and stop supporting terrorist
activities, they will face deepening international isolation and even
greater economic and diplomatic pressure," Tim Johnson, Democratic
chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, said in a statement.
TIMING OF VOTE STILL UNCLEAR
Senate and House leaders have said they would like to pass the
sanctions by the end of the week, when lawmakers are set to leave for
an extended recess.
The draft text of the compromise bill was released by the House late
on Monday and a Republican aide confirmed members would vote on the
floor this week, although the date had not been set.
It was not immediately clear whether a vote would be held in the U.S.
Senate, where an earlier version of the bill was held up in May by
Republicans who sought tougher measures.
One senior congressional source characterized the bill
as "incremental" and said the new measures would not be enough to
force Tehran to abandon its nuclear program, or prevent Israel from
taking military action.
President Barack Obama would need to sign the bill for the measures
to take effect. The White House did not publicly comment on the
legislation as it was being developed, and has not yet commented on
the compromise bill.
The compromise scaled back proposals to sanction satellite service
providers to Iran´s government, replacing that with non-binding
measures urging companies to stop providing the services until Tehran
stops jamming certain satellite signals.
Some groups pushing for stricter measures against Iran have said they
are worried the compromise weakens sanctions on companies that help
Iranian banks transfer money.
The compromise bill includes more provisions aimed at shippers that
transport Iran´s oil around the globe, as well as on the National
Iranian Oil Company, or NIOC, and National Iranian Tanker Company, or
NITC. (Editing by Peter Cooney) (© Thomson Reuters 2012. 07/30/12)
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