• US Senators urge sanctions on Chinese firms in Iran

    WASHINGTON, September 28, 2010 (AFP) – The United States should punish Chinese and Turkish firms reportedly providing Iran with refined petroleum products, two senior US senators urged Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Tuesday.

    Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer and Republican Senator Jon Kyl, his party’s number-two leader in the chamber, called on Clinton in a letter to “promptly” enforce a US law aimed at denying Iran access to world gasoline markets.

    The United States should “penalize those companies that are continuing to supply Iran with refined petroleum products” since President Barack Obama signed the law in July, they wrote.

    “According to press reports, these would include Turkey’s Turpas, and China’s Sinopec, National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC), and Zhuhai Zhenrong,” said Kyl and Schumer, whose offices made the letter public.

    US lawmakers have bitterly complained that Chinese firms have taken the place of European rivals leaving the Iranian market, undermining international sanctions aimed at halting Tehran’s suspect nuclear program.

    Washington should also tighten the financial noose on Iran by imposing sanctions on its central bank and taking steps “to ensure Iranian banks are not able to participate in the international banking system,” they said.

    The Obama administration should also move to deny US government contracts to firms that exports communications jamming or monitoring technology to Iran, they said.

    The senators also pressed Clinton to act on the sanctions irrespective of Iran’s stated willingess to return to talks with world powers who accuse the Islamic republic of a secret campaign to develop a nuclear weapon.

    The lawmakers said Iran aimed to use such outreach as it has in the past to gain “a reprieve from sanctions,” only to stymie Washington and its partners later.

    “We must urge our allies to resist any false entreaty to negotiate from Iran. You will have the full support of the Congress in doing all that’s necessary to prevent a nuclear armed Iran,” they said.

    “The window to stop the Iranian regime from obtaining a nuclear weapons capability through sanctions is rapidly closing,” they warned.

    Tehran denies it seeks nuclear weapons and that its atomic energy program is for purely civilian purposes.

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