WASHINGTON, Oct. 30 (UPI) -- The U.S. Senate Banking Committee expanded sanctions on Iran to cover its energy sector as punishment for nuclear activity and other behavior.
The Senate unanimously approved the Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability and Divestment Act sponsored by Sens. Chris Dodd, D-Conn., and Richard Shelby, R-Ala.
The measure expands the Iran Sanctions Act to cover financial institutions and other businesses involved in the export of refined petroleum products to Iran or those entities involved in domestic refining capacity.
While Iran sits on some of the largest oil and gas reserves in the world, it relies on imports for a portion of its energy needs because of a lack of refining capacity.
The measure also prohibits the U.S. government from doing business with companies involved in Iran's energy sector.
Iran announced earlier this month it was preparing for possible U.S. sanctions by increasing activity at national refineries. Restrictions were placed on vehicle usage earlier this year to curb gasoline consumption.
The legislation comes as Tehran balks on a Western-backed proposal for Iran to continue some nuclear activity through a fuel exchange program.
"We must send a clear signal to Iran's leaders that, if they continue to defy the will of the international community, our nation is prepared to confront them on that," said Dodd.