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Senate panel passes Iran sanctions

WASHINGTON (JTA) — The U.S. Senate Banking Committee passed an Iran sanctions bill by a unanimous vote.

The Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability and Divestment Act of 2009 passed Oct. 30 includes the Iran Refined Petroleum Sanctions Act, which would strengthen the U.S. president’s authority to sanction companies that help Iran import or produce refined petroleum. That is seen as potentially having a large impact on Iran’s economy because the country imports up to 40 percent of its refined petroleum.

Similar legislation had been passed a day earlier by the U.S. House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Commitee.

The Senate version also includes portions of the Iran Sanctions Enabling Act, legislation passed by the House earlier this month that protects from lawsuits state and local pension funds who want to divest from Iran. In addition, it would ban all imports from Iran, strengthen export controls to stop the diversion of sensitive technology to Iran through third countries and mandate that the president file a report every six months on sanctionable activities.

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee and the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations both issued statements applauding passage of the bill in the committees. Both bills face further deliberation before full house votes.

"This comprehensive Iran sanctions legislation will reinforce American diplomacy should Iran continue to defy the international community and five U.N. Security Council resolutions by continuing to enrich uranium, refuse unfettered nuclear inspections and cover up the extent of its nuclear program," AIPAC said in a statement. "The law would force Tehran to confront a real choice: continue its illicit nuclear program and risk economic ruin or suspend the program and open the door to relief from sanctions."

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