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Senate passes enhanced Iran sanctions

JTA

November 30, 2012 | 12:35 pm

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad visits the Natanz nuclear enrichment facility, 217 miles south of Tehran, on April 8, 2008. Photo by Presidential official website/Reuters

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad visits the Natanz nuclear enrichment facility, 217 miles south of Tehran, on April 8, 2008. Photo by Presidential official website/Reuters

The U.S. Senate, urged by AIPAC, unanimously approved tightened Iran sanctions.

"In an effort to circumvent international sanctions on the Central Bank of Iran, some purchasers of Iranian oil and natural gas have been using gold and other precious metals to pay for petroleum products," the American Israel Public Affairs Committee said in a letter Friday to Senators considering the legislation, first proposed by Sens. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) and Mark Kirk (R-Ill.).

"Iran in turn has used these precious metals to circumvent financial sanctions, using them to barter for goods," said the AIPAC letter to senators. "The Menendez-Kirk-Lieberman amendment would close this loophole, without impacting humanitarian trade."

The legislation, attached as an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act, passed later Friday unanimously, earning AIPAC's praise.

"America must continue to lead the international effort to stop Iran’s illicit nuclear pursuit," it said in a statement. "AIPAC urges the immediate implementation of the new sanctions."

Should the House also pass the NDAA, the amendment must survive reconciliation of the House and Senate bills.

Obama is likely in any case to sign the NDAA, considered to be a critical defense spending bill.

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