U.S. lawmakers are a step closer to finalizing new sanctions aimed at further restricting Iran's oil revenues after negotiators from the Senate and House of Representatives agreed upon a compromise bill on Monday.
If passed, the sanctions will add additional pressure on top of penalties imposed by the United States and European Union earlier this year on countries that fail to slash purchases of Iranian oil - sanctions the West hopes will prevent Tehran from building nuclear weapons.
Senate and House leaders have said they would like to pass the sanctions by the end of the week, when lawmakers are slated to leave for an extended recess. Votes have not yet been scheduled.
U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta acknowledged Monday that increasingly stiff international sanctions have yet to compel Iran to give up its nuclear ambitions. But he argued that more pressure eventually would lead Iran to "do what's right."
Iran's disputed nuclear program, which Tehran contends is only for peaceful purposes, is a prominent backdrop to Panetta's five-day tour of the Middle East and North Africa, during which he will also be visiting Israel.
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