Existing oil sanctions squeezing Iran, U.S. says

Updated Dec. 13, 2013 at 8:52 AM
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WASHINGTON, Dec. 13 (UPI) -- U.S. Undersecretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence David Cohen said Iran will lose billions of dollars in oil revenue because of sanctions pressure.

Cohen testified before the Senate Banking Committee on sanctions pressuring the Iranian energy sector.

Iran and its Western negotiating partners in November reached an interim deal where Iran scales back some of its nuclear activity in exchange for sanctions relief. Cohen said Iran will still lose about $4 billion per month during the course of the six-month arrangement.

"Our oil, financial and banking sanctions, in particular, have driven Iran into a deep recession," he testified Thursday.

Sanctions are designed to starve Iran of oil revenue it could use to finance a controversial nuclear program, which Iran says is for peaceful purposes. Cohen said sanctions in place since 2011 forced Iranian oil exports to decline substantially, costing the government about $80 billion in lost sales.

The White House said imposing more sanctions on Iran would jeopardize progress made so far in nuclear negotiations. The Senate committee's ranking member, Sen. Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, said heavy pressure was needed to keep Iran in line. Chairman Tim Johnson, D-S.D., said more sanctions would "rupture the unity" of international negotiating partners.

"Existing sanctions will continue to bite, and to bite hard," he said in his opening statement Thursday.

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