Senate passes Iran sanctions bill

The new sanctions on Iran would target the country's oil and banking industries, as well as other sectors.

Story highlights

  • "Iranians need to know we mean business," Sen. Harry Reid says
  • The new sanctions would take aim at Iran's oil and banking industries
  • A dispute over including a threat of U.S. force stalled the bill last week
  • Iran says its nuclear work is peaceful; new talks are scheduled for Wednesday

The U.S. Senate unanimously voted to tighten sanctions on Iran on Monday, three days after a dispute over whether to include the threat of American force stalled the legislation.

The new sanctions would target Iran's oil and banking industries, as well as other sectors. The measure passed the Senate on a voice vote Monday evening, two days before a new round of talks between Iran and leading U.N. members in Baghdad.

"Today the Senate has showed we can still act in a bipartisan way on important priorities," said Sen. Tim Johnson, D-South Dakota, the chairman of the Senate Banking Committee.

Passage came after senators agreed to add language warning that military force would be an option available to the United States if Iran seeks to build a nuclear weapon. But the measure also states that nothing in the legislation authorizes military action.

Missile shield in place, NATO chief says

The House of Representatives passed a similar bill in December, but demands for those competing messages stalled the bill in the Senate last week. Republicans blocked passage after complaints that the language wasn't tough enough, leading Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, to complain that he was being "jerked around."

    Just Watched

    Israel to Iran: Time is running out

Israel to Iran: Time is running out 03:50
PLAY VIDEO

    Just Watched

    Obama: G8 unified in approach to Iran

Obama: G8 unified in approach to Iran 05:38
PLAY VIDEO

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, said the legislation now makes clear that "all options" could be considered, echoing previous statements by President Barack Obama.

    "I hope sanctions will work," Graham said. "But this is a clear statement by the United States Senate, backing up our president, that when it comes to Iran having a nuclear capability, there will be more than sanctions on the table -- and the Iranians need to know that."

    Meanwhile, Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul insisted on language that explicitly noted that nothing in the bill "shall be construed as a declaration of war or an authorization of the use of force" against either Iran or Syria, an Iranian ally now fighting a popular uprising against its government. Paul, the son of two-time GOP presidential candidate Ron Paul, was pleased by the bill's passage, spokeswoman Moira Bagley told CNN.

    Security Clearance: Iran propping up Syria's cash reserves

    And Reid said after the vote, "Iranians need to know we mean business."

    Aides from both parties said the House and Senate bills will need to be reconciled after the Senate amendments.

    Iran has insisted that its production of enriched uranium is meant to fuel civilian nuclear power plants, and U.S. intelligence believes any previous weapons-related research was halted in 2003. But the Islamic republic has refused international demands to halt its nuclear fuel program, and the U.N. nuclear watchdog agency said in November that it was up to Iran to demonstrate the peaceful nature of its atomic research.

    Iran says U.N. talks pave way for negotiations

    Meanwhile, Iran's economy has been crippled by existing sanctions imposed by the United Nations, the United States and the European Union. Eighty percent of Iran's foreign revenues are derived from oil exports, and an embargo by the EU set to go into effect in July will put further pressure on its economy.

        CNN recommends

      • pkg clancy north korea nuclear dreams_00002004.jpg

        As "We are the World" plays, a video shows what looks like a nuclear attack on the U.S. Jim Clancy reports on a bizarre video from North Korea.
      • Photojournalist Alison Wright travelled the world to capture its many faces in her latest book, "Face to Face: Portraits of the Human Spirit."
      • pkg rivers uk football match fixing_00005026.jpg

        Europol claims 380 soccer matches, including top level ones, were fixed - as the scandal widens, CNN's Dan Rivers looks at how it's done.
      • No Eiffel Towers, Statues of Liberties, Mt. Rushmores, Taj Mahals, Aussie koalas or Chairman Maos.

        It's an essential part of any trip, an activity we all take part in. Yet almost none of us are any good at it. Souvenir buying is too often an obligatory slog.