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U.S. Senate Unanimously Backs Sanctions Against Iranian Central Bank

The Obama administration has warned that new U.S. legislation could jeopardize international unity on Iran.
The United States Senate has unanimously approved tougher sanctions against Iran -- including measures aimed at cutting off Iran's central bank, the main institution that handles Iran's oil revenues, from the global financial system.

The vote in Washington on December 1 was 100-0 in support of an amendment to a defense spending bill.

The measure must be blended with similar legislation from the House of Representatives, before it can be sent to President Barack Obama to be signed into law or vetoed.

The Obama administration had urged lawmakers not to pass the legislation, saying it could jeopardize international unity against Iran's nuclear program. The administration warned the measure could also trigger an increase in oil prices if the world market is deprived of Iranian exports because of sanctions on the Iranian central bank.

The measure would cut off from the U.S. financial system non-U.S. banks which carry out energy-related business with Iran's central bank.

The sanctions would not cover transactions involving sales of food, medicine and medical devices to Iran. The United States already bars American banks from dealing with the Iranian central bank.

The vote came after the European Union on December 2 expanded its sanctions against Iran. That action came two days after hundreds of Iranian protesters stormed the British Embassy in Tehran, and also followed the recent release of a United Nations report suggesting that Iran had been conducting research aimed at developing a nuclear weapon.

Iran says it is not trying to make an atomic bomb.

compiled from agency reports