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NYT report on Iran raises US lawmakers' ire

09 March 2010 [15:35] - TODAY.AZ
US lawmakers are stepping up efforts to tighten sanctions on Iran after a report revealed that Washington had awarded 107 billion dollars in payments to American and international companies doing business with the country.

"We need to send a strong, clear signal to Iran that until it halts its nuclear ambitions, the dangerous state will be denied the benefits of access to the global economy," Democratic Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said in a statement Monday.

"Company offenders whose profits serve to fuel Iran's nuclear ambitions should not be allowed to do business with the US, period," said Gillibrand.

Iran, a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), says its nuclear work is directed at the civilian applications of the technology.

However, the US and its allies accuse Tehran of pursuing a military objective in its nuclear program, despite affirmation by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) of Iran's non-diversion in its activities.

Under the allegation, western countries have imposed three rounds of UNSC sanctions on Iran and are currently lobbying for a fourth. The US, meanwhile, has opted to impose unilateral sanctions on Tehran for its nuclear enrichment program.

Senator Gillibrand called for the immediate adoption of a pending bill that could deny US government contracts to companies that provide Iran with gasoline or invest in the country's energy sector.

She also called for imposing a three-year ban on government contracts for companies that falsely claim they do not do business with Iran's refined petroleum sector.

On Saturday, The New York Times reported that while pushing for tougher sanctions on Tehran, the US government has given more than 107 billion dollars in contract payments, grants and other benefits over the past decade to foreign and multinational American companies doing business in Iran.

The sum included nearly 15 billion dollars paid to firms that breached the law on US sanctions against Iran by making large investments that helped the country develop its vast oil and gas reserves, said the paper.

In response, US representatives called for toughening a 1996 law aimed at punishing companies that invest more than 20 million dollars in Iran's oil and gas sectors, noting it has never led to sanctions on any company.

"The US government should be enforcing the Iran Sanctions Act, not rewarding firms that violate it," said Republican congressman Mark Kirk.

/Press TV/

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