WASHINGTON, Oct. 29 (UPI) -- The goal of U.S. sanctions on Iran's gasoline supply is to prevent a nuclear arms race in the Middle East sparked by a sponsor of terrorism, a lawmaker said.
A panel of the U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation Wednesday that gives President Barack Obama the power to target companies involved in the petroleum sector in Iran.
"I have one transcendent goal in mind," said Rep. Howard Berman, D-Calif., chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, "To maximize the chances that Iran, the leading state sponsor of terrorism, will be prevented from acquiring the capacity to produce nuclear arms."
The measure excludes companies selling fuel to Iran from U.S. government contracts. Berman, who sponsored the bill, said that while the legislation is no "magic bullet" it would force Tehran to "think twice" about its nuclear activity.
Three separate panels must pass the bill before it goes to a full vote. Berman's comments come as Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Thursday he was ready for nuclear cooperation.
Berman said Tehran should recognize Washington was ready to talk when the country moves in line with the expectations of the international community.
"Should diplomacy fail, we must be prepared," he warned.