Washington: The US Congress will pass in late June a package of economic sanctions on Iran that will "complement and augment" those under consideration at the United Nations, key US lawmakers said today.
Senate Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd and House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Howard Berman have been working to craft legislation aimed at piling pressure on Tehran to freeze its suspect nuclear program.
"We will use the coming weeks to ensure that our legislation is crafted to complement and augment those other actions as effectively as possible," they said in a joint statement.
"We remain fully committed to passing a package of tough US sanctions in the latter half of June," they said, adding: "We expect that our legislation will be taken up and passed by both bodies in that time frame."
The United States succeeded in forging a compromise with the other four permanent members of the Security Council for a fourth round of sanctions against Iran for its defiance in refusing to halt uranium enrichment.
That process can be used to produce fuel for nuclear reactors, but in highly refined form, enriched uranium can be used to make an atomic weapon.
Tehran denies charges by the big powers that it has a covert atomic arms program.
Washington said both Russia and China had backed a tough draft UN sanctions resolution against Iran.
The fourth round of sanctions would expand an existing arms embargo, measures against Iran`s banking sector and ban it from mining uranium and developing ballistic missiles overseas, according to a US official in New York.
Dodd and Berman called the new UN sanctions proposal "useful," saying it was "a basis for the European Union and other nations to impose much stronger national sanctions on Tehran in the energy, financial and other critical sectors."
"We have always said that tough multilateral sanctions are the most effective means to persuade Iran to cease its efforts to develop a nuclear weapons capability," the lawmakers said.
The US bill would target Iran`s gasoline imports in order to force the Islamic republic -- which depends on imports to meet 40% of its domestic demand -- to freeze its suspect nuclear program.
Dodd and Berman said they had initially planned to merge rival Senate and House versions of sanctions legislation and pass the compromise measure by late May, but said they would hold off given the work at the United Nations.