WASHINGTON (AP) — House and Senate negotiators reached agreement Monday on a new round of stifling sanctions on Iran, targeting energy, shipping and insurance sectors with punitive measures to derail Tehran's suspected push for nuclear weapons.
Lawmakers filed a final bill late Monday that expands on existing penalties, with a House vote expected as early as Wednesday. Congress has just a week before a monthlong August recess and members see the legislation as the last chance to impose crippling sanctions that hit Iran's economy and its ability to finance its nuclear program.
"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," said Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., chairwoman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
Sanctions have broad bipartisan support in Congress. Crucial to the bill is the strong backing of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the powerful pro-Israel lobbying group.
Sen. Tim Johnson, D-S.D., chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, said the bill reconciles the House and Senate bills and incorporates new provisions from lawmakers. He vowed to help pass it in the Senate before Congress adjourns.
Unless Iranians, "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," Johnson said.
The two lawmakers and their staff worked for weeks behind closed doors to come up with a bill.
The bill would sanction many transactions related to the energy sector and prohibit Iran from transferring money back to the country from oil sales to foreign nations.
Any company shipping proliferation-sensitive goods to Iran would be subject to penalties under the bill, a provision pushed by Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J. The bill also calls for sanctions on anyone who provides insurance or reinsurance to a shipping service from Iran. One of the main targets of the measure is the National Iranian Tanker Co., the state-run company and shipping line.
The bill also would deny visas and freeze assets on individuals and companies that supply Iran with technology that could be used against its citizens, such as tear gas, rubber bullets and surveillance equipment. The bill extends those sanctions on human rights violators to Syria, where President Bashar Assad's regime is accused of a bloody crackdown against protesters
The bill targets Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps and requires companies that trade on the U.S. stock exchange to disclose any Iran-related business to the Securities and Exchange Commission.