In a vote which had been widely anticipated, the US Senate today approved additional sanctions against companies that provide gasoline to Iran, as well as against some companies that provide communications technology to the nation.
The sanctions are seen as doing particular harm to Swiss company Vitol, as well as France’s Total S.A. and Britain’s BP. Major cellphone company Nokia could also be affected if the communications clause is included in the compromise bill with the House.
The vote was a companion bill to a House of Representatives bill which passed 412-12 in mid-December. The Senate vote was a voice vote, meaning individual Senators did not have to record their vote publicly.
The sanctions in the Senate bill would extend to companies that build oil and gas pipelines in Iran and provide tankers to move Iran's petroleum.
The measure also prohibits the US government from purchasing goods from foreign companies that do business in Iran's energy sector.
In his State of the Union address on Wednesday, Obama warned Tehran faced "growing consequences" over its nuclear program. The administration has been working with several other major powers to build a consensus on new sanctions to be imposed jointly.
US business groups have warned the White House that the lawmakers' approach threatens to undercut this joint strategy. The critics say broad-based sanctions sought by lawmakers would upset US allies whose companies would be affected, and frustrate joint action with other countries against Iran.
The self-destructive political spasms of the USA must not be allowed to disrupt world business.