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United States Senate Approves Sanctions on Iran''s Fuel Suppliers

February 1, 2010
Reuters reports, the United States Senate has approved legislation that would let President Barack Obama impose sanctions on Iran''s gasoline suppliers and penalize some of Tehran''s elites, a move aimed at pressuring Tehran to give up its nuclear program. The sanctions would target companies that export gasoline to Iran or help expand the country''s oil-refining capacity by denying them loans and other assistance from U.S. financial institutions. The House of Representatives has already passed similar legislation. Differences between the two bills will have to be worked out before the measure becomes law. Lawmakers and the Obama administration fear Iran''s uranium enrichment program will be used to develop weapons, while Tehran says it is for peaceful purposes such as generating electricity. Cutting off gasoline supplies would hurt Tehran''s economy; while Iran has the world''s third biggest oil reserves, it must import 40 percent of its gasoline to meet domestic demand because of a lack of refining capacity. The sanctions in the Senate bill would extend to companies that build oil and gas pipelines in Iran and provide tankers to move Iran''s petroleum. The measure also prohibits the U.S. government from purchasing goods from foreign companies that do business in Iran''s energy sector.