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US Senate Introduces Iran Sanctions Bill
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RIMANEWS - The United States imposed several rounds of sanctions against Iran after the 1979 victory of the Islamic Revolution in the country. In its latest attempt, a bipartisan group of Senators in Washington have introduced new sanctions in response to Iran's peaceful nuclear activities.

Tehran has repeatedly stressed that its nuclear program is civilian in nature, adding that as a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and a member of the International Atomic Energy Agency it has the right to use nuclear technology for peaceful purposes.

Iran views the Obama administration's unilateral sanctions as well as the U.S.-led Security Council resolutions as a mere continuation of thirty years of "failed" hostility toward the Islamic Republic.

Iran says the U.S.' accusations vis-à-vis its "peaceful nuclear program" are at best hypocritical given Washington's self-confessed sprawling arsenal of nuclear weapons, its overt support for Israel's nuclear weapons and its duplicitous nuclear deals with other non-signatories to the NPT.

HIGHLIGHTS

The bilateral legislation, called the Iran, North Korea and Syria Sanctions Consolidation Act of 2011, aims to increase pressure on companies still doing business with Iran's energy industry, notably Chinese firms that are on existing U.S. lists of violators but have not been sanctioned. Reallibertymedia.com

The bill would expand an asset freeze on companies selling conventional military goods or technology to Iran, North Korea or Syria. Reallibertymedia.com

Republican senator from Illinois, Mark Kirk, announced the bill aimed primarily at increasing pressure on companies based in other countries that are doing business with Iran's energy sector, especially those in China. Arirang.co.kr

Kirk announced at the AIPAC policy conference in Washington that the new bill was meant to both tighten enforcement of the Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability and Divestment Act (CISADA), and bring new pressure on the Iranian government's banking, energy, and military sectors. foreignpolicy.com

The companies cited, however, had limited commercial dealings with the United States, a senior U.S. administration official said. The seven companies included the United Arab Emirates-based Royal Oyster Group, the Sepahan Oil Company, but also an Israeli firm, the Ofer Brothers Group. Politico

With U.S. dealings limited, "the immediate practical impact" of the sanctions would be "minimal," the official said. Politico

The order freezes the assets of such entities, bars them from borrowing funds from U.S. banks, and prohibits them from holding a stake in any foreign exchange trade or credit transfer conducted under U.S. auspices. The move bans sanctioned entities from shipping materials, systems or services into the United States, whether or not through a third party. Gsn.nti.org

The new U.S. sanctions come as the European Union agreed to sanction more than 100 people and entities with suspected ties to Iran's nuclear program, including the European- Iranian Trade Bank, an Iranian-owned bank based in Hamburg. Nasdaq.com

Iran's foreign ministry spokesman, Ramin Mehmanparast, said the EU is acting illogically by acting on sanctions while at the same time calling for Tehran to resume talks with major powers on nuclear issues. chicagochronicle.com

Ali Akbar Salehi, Iran's foreign minister, said the Islamic Republic is ready to hold further negotiations based on mutual respect regarding its peaceful nuclear program.

"The Islamic Republic of Iran is always prepared to hold fair and just negotiations based on mutual respect with other parties within the framework of mutual interests," Salehi was quoted by IRNA as saying on Wednesday.

FACTS & FIGURES

Despite these sanctions, reports say the United States has awarded more than $107 billion in contract payments, grants and other benefits over the past decade to foreign and multinational American companies while they were doing business in Iran. Nytimes.com

A report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office or GAO shows that more than 40 foreign firms had commercial activity in Iran's energy sector between 2005 and 2009. Of these firms, seven had contracts with the U.S. government. Gao.gov

In 2008, a U.S. audit report questioned the effectiveness of Washington's sanctions against Tehran. The report revealed that Iran had signed some $20 billion in energy contracts with foreign firms since 2003. Gao.gov

Every IAEA report on Iran to date has stated that the "agency continues to verify the non-diversion of declared nuclear material in Iran." Willienelsonpri.com

In May 2010, the United States disclosed for the first time the current size of its nuclear arsenal saying it had a total of 5,113 warheads in its nuclear stockpile. The figure does not include "several thousand" warheads that are now retired and awaiting dismantlement. Reuters

President Obama has allocated£4.3 billion to maintain the U.S. arsenal-- £370 million more than George Bush spent on nuclear weapons in his final year. dailymail.co.uk

The Obama Administration also plans to spend a further£3.1 billion over the next five years on nuclear security. dailymail.co.uk

The plan contradicts the president's statement declaring nuclear weapons were the "greatest danger" to the American people during his State of the Union address in January 2010.

The United States used nuclear weapons on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945 killing over a hundred thousand people, making it the only country ever yet to use nuclear weapons during a conflict.(presstv)