US Congress readies Iran sanctions if diplomacy fails
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Last Updated: Saturday, October 03, 2009, 13:25
Washington: The US Congress is ready to act swiftly to impose tough new sanctions on Iran if international talks on Tehran's nuclear programme show signs of faltering.

Already, some lawmakers are demanding that the United States strike immediately with new penalties rather than wait for an uncertain multinational consensus.

Democratic Sen Christopher Dodd, chairman of the Senate's banking committee, and others are working on plans to expand sanctions significantly if current diplomatic efforts to curtail Iran's alleged nuclear weapons programme fall short.

"Congress must equip President (Barack) Obama with a full range of tools to deal with the threats posed by Iran," Dodd said, outlining measures to expand sanctions to cover a wider range of financial transactions, including a new ban on exporting refined petroleum to Iran. His committee plans a hearing on the subject Tuesday.

Obama said talks on Thursday in Switzerland among Iran and six world powers, during which Iran indicated it would open its newly disclosed nuclear plant to UN inspectors, were "a constructive beginning." He added, however, that Iran must match its words with actions.

The President said his administration, in conjunction with Congress, is crafting plans that could target Iran's energy, financial and telecommunications sectors. The hope is to gain a united international front that includes China and Russia, countries reluctant in the past to restrict trade with Iran.

Bureau Report

First Published: Saturday, October 03, 2009, 13:25

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