The U.S. Congress approved new sanctions against Iran on Wednesday, Aug. 1, this time aimed at punishing anyone who aids and abets the oil industry in Iran or the development of Iran's nuclear capabilities.
Specifically, the bill will slap sanctions on anyone who provides oil tankers to Iran, insures the National Iranian Tanker Co., or agrees to mine uranium with Iran. The new sanctions also aim to prevent Iran from repatriating any revenue earned from crude oil sales, according to the AP.
The bill passed the House by a vote of 421-6, and members of both parties said they were prepared to do more to stop Iran from developing nuclear weapons. Iran claims it is trying to develop its nuclear capabilities for peaceful purposes.
"Our current sanctions, and a recent European Union ban on purchasing Iranian oil, have already had an impact," said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. "In spite of the rhetoric coming out of Iran, the regime is clearly feeling the heat. Oil exports are down by 50 percent, and the Iranian currency has lost nearly 40 percent of its value."
The bill passed just as Defense Secretary Leon Panetta is wrapping up his trip to Egypt and Israel, during which time it became clear that Washington and Tel Aviv have very different ideas of how to deal with Iran.
"The international community has applied very strong sanctions against [the Iranians]. We have ratcheted up those sanctions. It's having an impact," said Panetta at a press conference on Wednesday, near Gaza.
But Israeli officials have disagreed that sanctions are the most effective course of action. Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak, who was with Panetta at the same press conference, said that while the world is waiting for the sanctions to have an effect, "the Iranians are daily enriching uranium."
"It's important to notice that while sanctions are taking place and diplomacy is taking place, it takes time," said Barak. "We clearly have something to lose by this stretched time."
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was blunter. "Neither sanctions nor diplomacy has yet had any impact on Iran's nuclear weapons program."
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