Senate panel approves sweeping penalties on Iran

February 2, 2012 - 11:45 AM

WASHINGTON (AP) — A Senate panel is backing sweeping new penalties on Iran with lawmakers arguing the economic pressure will undercut Tehran's nuclear ambitions.

The Banking Committee approved the legislation Thursday by voice vote in a rare instance of bipartisanship. Democrats and Republicans said current U.S. and international penalties have hurt Iran financially, with the value of its currency plummeting. They said ratcheting up the sanctions would force Tehran to abandon its nuclear program.

The bill would target Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps and companies involved in joint energy and uranium mining ventures with Tehran. It also would penalize companies and individuals that supply Iran with weapons that could be used against their citizens, such as rubber bullets.

The legislation comes weeks after Congress backed sanctions on financial institutions dealing with Iran's Central Bank