Senate would ban Iran dealers from supplying reserve

WASHINGTON (JTA) — The U.S. Senate approved legislation that would ban companies that deal with Iran from supplying the U.S. strategic oil reserve.

The amendment was part of an energy and water supply bill that passed July 30 and would ban companies that sell at least $1 million in refined petroleum to Iran from supplying the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve.

Iran is a major supplier of raw crude, but its refining capabilities have deteriorated and it imports much of its refined petroleum. The U.S. reserve is the world’s largest supply of reserve oil.

The legislation, which must now be reconciled with a similar bill in the U.S. House of Representatives, is part of a broader congressional push to pass legislation that would enable President Obama to cripple Iran’s economy should it not stand down from its suspected nuclear weapons program.

In a sign that congressional leaders are accelerating such sanctions, the Senate Banking Committee conducted hearings on Iran on July 30, with Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.), its chairman, saying he planned on raising the issue with the relevant U.S. agencies.

"The actions of this Iranian regime pose a threat to peace and security in the Middle East, and threaten our close ally Israel," Dodd said in a prepared statement. "It is our job to arm our President with a comprehensive set of tough sanctions designed to ratchet up pressure on the Iranian regime. I am working closely with the Administration as it develops its Iran policy, and I plan to hold a hearing with State, Treasury, and Commerce officials this fall before marking up additional legislation."

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