AFP: The US Senate may take up legislation to slap sanctions on Iran "in the next few weeks" to pile pressure on Tehran over its suspect nuclear program, the chamber's top Democrat said Tuesday. WASHINGTON (AFP) — The US Senate may take up legislation to slap sanctions on Iran "in the next few weeks" to pile pressure on Tehran over its suspect nuclear program, the chamber's top Democrat said Tuesday.
Senate Democratic Majority Leader Harry Reid said that he and his Republican counterpart, Senator Mitch McConnell, were "committed to finding a time to do this" and that lawmakers could act "in the next few weeks."
Reid said the measure, which would impose new unilateral US sanctions aimed at choking off Iran's imports of gasoline, will create new pressure on the Iranian regime and help stop Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon."
Iran has rejected global calls to limit its nuclear program, notably by freezing uranium enrichment, and denies Western charges that what it calls a civilian energy drive masks a push to acquire nuclear weapons.
While Iran is a major producer of crude oil, it lacks the capacity to refine the product, forcing it to import 40 percent of its gasoline.
If the Senate approves the measure, it would need to craft a compromise version with the House of Representatives, which approved its own version on December 15.
The legislation, which includes sanctions that can be slapped on foreign companies with more than 20 million dollars of investments in Iran's energy sector, was approved by the Banking Committee at end of October.
Iran's top suppliers of refined petroleum are Swiss companies Vitol and Glencore, Dutch-Swiss Trafigura, France's Total, Britain's British Petroleum, and Indian company Reliance.