U.S. Senators Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Mark Kirk (R-IL) introduced a bipartisan amendment to the FY2014 Budget Resolution to strengthen sanctions against Iran by preventing the expansion of their natural gas exports that helps fund the development of their nuclear weapons program. The amendment encourages additional sanctions to be enacted during the 113th Congress.
"Now is the time for Congress to act and close a sanctions loophole that Iran has exploited in an attempt to sell natural gas to neighboring countries," Senator Manchin said. "Selling natural gas to bordering nations could serve as an economic lifeline for Iran, which ultimately will help our enemy continue to build their dangerous nuclear weapons program. I strongly urge Congress to close this loophole now before Iran has the opportunity to strengthen its financial clout."
"We need to close the natural gas loophole in our Iran sanctions policy and I applaud Sen. Manchin for taking a leadership role on this important issue," Senator Kirk said. "Countries like Turkey and Pakistan need to decide whether they stand with the United States and Europe against Iran's pursuit of nuclear weapons or whether they want to subsidize Iran's illicit activities."
Original co-sponsors of the amendment include Senators Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Mark Kirk (R-IL), Susan Collins (R-ME) and James Inhofe (R-OK).
* On March 11, 2012, President Ahmadinejad of Iran and President Zardari of Pakistan signed an agreement to begin construction on the Pakistani portion of a natural gas pipeline to move gas from Iran's South Pars gas field to Pakistan. Planning for this $7.5 billion project began in 1994, and -- recently -- Iran reportedly offered Pakistan a $250-$500 million loan to finance the project.
* In July 2011, Iran, Iraq, and Syria signed a preliminary agreement for a $10 billion gas pipeline, and -- according to the Iranian press -- a new round of follow-up talks between Iran and Iraq on this issue began in March 2012.
* Iran has the second largest natural gas reserves in the world after Russia, but more than 85% of its gas fields have not been developed. Between July 2011 and June 2012, Iran's average monthly revenues from the export of natural gas were $320 million. While this is about 4 percent of Iran's daily energy exports, its natural gas sector has significant room for growth.