Monday 21 June 2010

Congress ready to tighten the screw on Iran


International banks and industrial groups are to be targeted by US sanctions against Iran under legislative changes set to be backed by Congress, say officials.

The legislation would add muscle to unilateral sanctions that Washington has imposed on Iran and be the latest in a series of international steps to increase pressure on Tehran’s nuclear programme after the toughening of UN sanctions this month.

As talks enter their final stages, members of Congress have moved beyond an initial focus on restricting refined oil supplies to Iran and embraced more sweeping proposals. “Congress isn’t backing off the tough measures on energy already in the legislation but it is also set to include very strong sanctions to stop foreign banks from doing business in Iran,” said a congressional aide.

“Ironically, it could be these sanctions that prove the most important part of the legislation – they add some very sharp teeth to what the Treasury department has [done] for years.”

The US legislation would set penalties for thirdcountry banks and companies that traded with blacklisted Iranian banks or subsidiaries of the country’s Revolutionary Guard.

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