WASHINGTON, Jan. 29 (UPI) -- Sanctions that would restrict Iran's import of refined petroleum products passed the U.S. Senate on a voice vote.
The measure now goes to a conference committee to iron out differences with an already-passed House version, Politico reported Friday.
"Passing this legislation sends Iran an important message that the United States is serious about keeping it from acquiring nuclear weapons," Senate Majority Leader Harry of Nevada said in a statement Thursday after the vote. "This bill would impose new sanctions on Iran's refined petroleum sector and tighten existing U.S. sanctions in an effort to create new pressure on the Iranian regime and help stop Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon."
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., failed to add a provision that would have imposed sanctions on Iran's human rights abusers, but received assurances from Senate leadership that it would be included in the conference report, the Washington publication reported.
Advocacy groups have debated the effectiveness of sanctions against Iran, where opposition protests have persisted since disputed June elections despite a brutal government crackdown.
"Gasoline sanctions have been characterized by some as a silver bullet which would cripple the Iranian economy ... while others have deplored the sanctions as an ineffective pinprick," Foundation for the Defense of Democracies Executive Director Mark Dubowitz said in a statement. "These sanctions -- which have already shown early success -- are an extension of a comprehensive economic warfare strategy designed to weaken the regime and feed the flames of Iranian public discontent."
The National Iranian American Council said the Senate vote would increase suffering Iranians endure "every day at the hands of their own government ... . The last thing that the Iranian people need as they continue to battle for their rights and dignity is for the U.S. to target them rather than Iran's oppressive rulers."