On Monday evening the United Sates Congress agreed on a bill that would impose a new round of sanctions on Iran. These sanctions will focus on the energy, shipping and insurance sectors. The move is a reaction to growing suspicion of Tehran’s attempts to build nuclear weapons.
“The bill sends a clear message to the Iranian regime that the U.S. is committed, through the use of sanctions, to preventing Iran from crossing the nuclear threshold,” declared Florida Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Chairperson of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
The bill provides a new list of financially sophisticated sanctions and would prohibit Iran from repatriating revenue from oil sales to foreign nations. Strict penalties would also be enforced on any company providing or insuring the shipment of materials to Iran that could be construed as aiding proliferation.Shipping companies carrying Iranian oil or aiding the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) or the National Iranian Tanker Company (NITC) would also be subject to sanctions.
The proposed bill would instate a wide range of additional sanctions to any company or organisation dealing with Iranian oil companies.
On Tuesday, Chief of Iran’s Central Bank Mahmoud Bahmani was quoted in a report from the official IRNA news agency saying that growing sanctions from the West are akin to “military war” and that the sanctions will need to be overcome with developed tactics.
President of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, at an oil refinery in Tehran slammed the sanctions as “ridiculous.””It’s very funny. They [the West] use oil as a political weapon against a country that is an oil producer itself,” said the Iranian President according to the Associated Press.
US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, who was in Tunisia on Monday, affirmed that the sanctions are hurting Iran’s economy “although the results are not obvious at the moment.”
Panetta’s comments may have been in response to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday who told visiting US presidential hopeful Mitt Romney “all the diplomacy and sanctions so far have not set back the Iranian programme by one iota.”
The proposed bill comes at the heel of Tehran’s announcement that the country had obtained capabilities to build nuclear powered vessels.
The US House of Representatives is expected to vote on the bill as soon as Wednesday. The measures would add to mounting sanctions applied by the United States and the European Union. The EU ended all oil contracts with Iran on July 1.