As rial plunges, Congress looks at expanding Iran sanctions
Reuters / Roberta Rampton

Lawmakers are considering expanding American economic sanctions on Iran - measures that already have helped push that country's currency into free fall but have not yet convinced Tehran to abandon its nuclear program.

Democratic Senator Robert Menendez, a member of the Senate Banking and Foreign Relations Committees, said he plans to push for new penalties on foreign banks that handle any significant transactions with the central bank of Iran. Only oil-related transactions are now covered by sanctions.

Some lawmakers want the extended sanctions to cover all transactions except for those involving food and medicine, said a senior congressional aide, speaking on condition of anonymity.

"You really move to a total embargo scenario," the aide said. "The Iranian economy would collapse pretty quickly."

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