U.S. Senate Passes Additional Sanctions Targeting Iran's Shipping, Energy Sectors

Published Nov 30, 2012 1:27 PM by The Maritime Executive

The United States Senate has approved new sanctions on trade with Iran's energy, port, shipping and shipbuilding sectors, designating these areas as entities of proliferation.

According to Reuters, the new set builds on existing U.S. sanctions but keeps exemptions for countries that have made significant cuts to their purchases of Iranian crude oil. Senators voted unanimously (94-0) to make the new sanctions part of an annual defense policy bill.

Under the new rules, the United States would sanction anyone selling or supplying certain commodities to Iran - including graphite, aluminum, steel, and some industrial software -that are relevant to the country's shipbuilding and nuclear sectors.

Iran’s economy has begun to crumble as its oil exports were drastically reduced by European and U.S. sanctions. The United Nations has made no progress in its investigation into whether Iran has worked on developing an atomic bomb.

The Obama administration has not publicly commented on the proposals, but has privately raised concerns that it does not provide enough waiver flexibility. They also mentioned that requirements for congressional reports on thousands of small and mid-size vessels that dock at Iranian seaports may be too burdensome. Both the House of Representatives and the Senate will work on these issues before providing President Obama with a final version of the defense bill.

Uncertainty surrounds the premise that expansion of sanctions can actually slow or stop Tehran's nuclear program.