Washington: The US Senate has voted to slap tough new sanctions on Iran, targeting its thirst for gasoline imports in a bid to force Tehran to bow to global pressure to freeze its suspect nuclear programme.
"The Iranian regime has engaged in serious human rights abuses against its own citizens, funded terrorist activity throughout the Middle East, and pursued illicit nuclear activities posing a serious threat to the security of the United States and our allies," said Democratic Senator Chris Dodd.
"With passage of this bill, we make it clear that there will be appropriate consequences if these actions continue," said Dodd, the chairman of the Senate Banking Committee and a key sponsor of the legislation.
The sweeping measure, which passed by voice vote, must now be blended with a similar bill in the House of Representatives to forge a compromise measure for both sides to approve and send to President Barack Obama.
The Senate bill aims to punish non-Iranian firms that do business in Iran`s energy sector or help the Islamic republic produce or import refined petroleum products like gasoline by blocking them from doing business in the US market.
Oil-rich Iran, which denies the West`s charges that it seeks to develop nuclear weapons, lacks refining capability and relies on imports to satisfy 40 percent of its thirst for gasoline.