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Senate votes to extend Iran sanctions
The U.S. Congress agreed on Saturday to extend sanctions on Iran set to expire this weekend that are aimed at choking off funds that could aid Iran in developing nuclear weapons.
With Congress scrambling to finish business before heading out to campaign for November 7 elections, the Senate approved a bill that matched one the House of Representatives approved on Thursday to keep the sanctions from expiring.
The bill would renew for five more years economic sanctions -- known as the Iran-Libya Sanctions Act or ILSA -- to discourage companies from investing in Iran's energy sector. Libya, which now has warming relations with the United States, was dropped from the sanctions.
The United States and other major powers are trying to get Iran to curb its nuclear program, which they suspect is aimed at developing nuclear weapons. Tehran maintains it is for civilian energy needs.
The bill also establishes mandatory economic sanctions on companies that provide Iran any goods, services or technologies that can be used in programs for nuclear, chemical or biological weapons.
It also authorizes assistance for human rights and pro-democracy groups and for independent broadcasting organizations that meet its criteria.
The bill initially was resisted by the White House until lawmakers agreed to give President George W. Bush more room to waive the sanctions.