The U.S. Senate has approved a bill that targets Iran’s Central Bank with sanctions, while also allowing the U.S. government to take punitive action against foreign companies that engage in transactions with Iranian banks.
The bill was passed unanimously, giving the president the power to impose the sanctions beginning July 1. The measures would make it much harder for foreign companies to pay for oil imports from Iran.
The Obama administration opposed the Senate sanctions against Iran on the grounds that such measures could jeopardize the international coalition that the U.S. has worked hard to create in order to put coordinated pressure on Iran over its nuclear activities. Furthermore, the administration said the measures could have an adverse effect on oil prices in the current economic situation.
The latest International Atomic Energy Agency report on Iran has triggered a raft of new unilateral sanctions, with Britain boycotting Iran’s banking sector, France boycotting its oil and gas sector and the EU imposing sanctions on a series of individuals and companies connected to its nuclear program.
Countries such a Greece and Italy, which depend on Iranian oil imports, have opposed EU sanctions that target Iranian crude oil.
Russia has spoken out against unilateral sanctions, warning that such measures only help aggravate the situation, making it harder to resolve nuclear disputes through diplomatic negotiations.