Bipartisan House bill would impose tougher penalties on Iran

Leaders of the U.S. House of Representatives demonstrated support for tougher penalties on Iran to stop the country's nuclear ambitions by introducing a bipartisan bill on Wednesday to levy additional sanctions against Tehran.

Rep. Ed Royce (R-Calif.) and Rep. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.) said that the measure would build on current laws to undercut the Iranian economy. The bill would lead to high unemployment and inflation, drop the value of the country's currency - the rial - extend penalties to human rights violators and extend penalties to individuals involved in censorship and corruption, Associated Press reports.

In addition, the measure would require the secretary of state to determine if Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps is a foreign terrorist organization. If the decision is made, the president would impose added penalties.

"Iran's continued march toward nuclear weapons is the gravest threat facing the United States and our allies," Royce said, according to Associated Press. "We must build on existing sanctions to maximize economic pressure and prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapons capability."

The proposed legislation comes as world powers meet in Kazakhstan to offer broad concessions to Iran to rein in Tehran's nuclear program and stop it from building an atomic weapon. Iran claims its nuclear program is geared toward peaceful purposes.

The legislation would urge the Obama administration to work with European nations to find a way to stop Iran's access to hard currency like the euro.

"We will continue to tighten the screws on Iran until the regime abandons its nuclear weapons program," Engel said, according to Associated Press. "I hope this crisis can be resolved through diplomacy, but words cannot be a substitute for action, and the U.S. must keep all options on the table."

Earlier measures in the House and Senate targeting Iran's central bank and other entities passed easily, Associated Press reports.