The U.S. Senate is set to consider a broader round of economic sanctions on Friday against Iran's energy, port, shipping and shipbuilding sectors, in an effort to further curtail Tehran’s nuclear program.
The new sanctions were proposed as an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act by Sen. Robert Menendez, a Democrat from New Jersey.
Menendez reiterated the importance of the amendment, stating that new evidence from the International Atomic Energy Association indicates that Iran appears to be adding centrifuge capacity and conducting explosives tests that could be used to detonate a nuclear weapon.
"Our message is clear: the window is closing. The time for the waiting game is over," Menendez said on the Senate floor late Thursday.
While he said that the sanctions approved last year hit Iran's central bank, Tehran has found ways to bypass the penalties, such as Turkey's use of gold to pay for Iranian natural gas imports.
"Yes, our sanctions are having a demonstrable effect on the Iranian economy, but Iran is still working just as hard to develop nuclear weapons."
The amendment, which was co-sponsored by Mark Kirk (R-Ill), would build on the sanctions passed last year by designating Iran's energy, port shipping and shipbuilding sectors as "entities of proliferation," because of what he said was the role they play in Iran's "proliferation activities."
It would also sanction entities that supply certain commodities to Iran that are seen as contributing to Iran's shipbuilding capacity. These commodities include graphite, aluminum, coal, steel and software used to integrate industrial processes.
Furthermore, the legislation also would designate the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting and its president as human rights abusers for broadcasting forced televised confessions and “show trials”.