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US House passes bill to expand sanctions against Iranian oil

 It would impose measures on foreign ports and refineries that process petroleum exported from Iran in violation of U.S. sanctions.

Washington DC: In a strong bipartisan vote, the US Congress passed a bill on Friday to harden sanctions on Iranian oil, which would also impose measures on foreign ports and refineries that facilitate the trade of oil from Tehran, The Hill reported.
It would impose measures on foreign ports and refineries that process petroleum exported from Iran in violation of U.S. sanctions
The bill was passed 342-69, with 133 Democrats voting with nearly every Republican in favour. 68 Democrats and Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) voted against the bill.
Although, the same bill has been introduced with bipartisan support in the Senate, but it’s not clear whether or when the upper chamber will take it up.
Kimberly Donovan, director of the Atlantic Council’s economic statecraft initiative, said that the legislation is not very different from existing sanctions on Iran.
“The sanctions that are currently in place on Iran, and especially their energy sector, are quite expansive,” The Hill quoted Donovan as saying.
She added, “I’m not exactly sure how this advances the ball or how this would further really, meaningfully impact Iran’s ability to sell its oil”.
Donovan also said that the bill’s sanctions on ports could be some degree of escalation since “at least historically, Treasury hasn’t really gone after foreign ports.”
She further noted that codifying the sanctions could make it more difficult to lift them in the case of an agreement like the Iran deal, under which the Obama administration loosened sanctions on Iran in exchange for an agreement for Iran not to pursue weapons-grade uranium, The Hill reported.
This comes amid a war between Israel and Hamas. Iran has backed Hamas for decades, though US officials have not confirmed whether Iran was directly involved in an October attack on Israel that sparked the latest bout of violence.
Nevertheless, the issue has put a spotlight on Iranian oil, which represents a significant piece of the country’s economy.
Despite existing US sanctions, Iran has been able to export oil. Analysts have said that China is a major buyer, and note that sanctions enforcement may be difficult for transactions that don’t touch American financial markets, The Hill reported.

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