By Roberta Rampton
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - 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 on a compromise bill on Monday.
If passed, the sanctions would add further 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.
"The expanded energy sanctions contained in this critical legislation effectively blacklist the Iranian energy sector and anyone doing business with it," Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, the Republican chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said in a statement.
Iran has maintained its nuclear program is for civilian purposes. Its economy has been damaged by existing sanctions and its oil production has slipped to the lowest level since 1988.
"Unless (Iranian leaders) come clean on their nuclear program, end the suppression of their people, and stop supporting terrorist activities, they will face deepening international isolation and even greater economic and diplomatic pressure," Tim Johnson, Democratic chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, said in a statement.
Johnson said the bill included new sanctions on sales of any goods or services to Iran's oil and gas sector, including insurance and reinsurance, and would hurt Iran's ability to do barter trades or oil-for-gold swaps to sell its oil cargoes.
Senate and House leaders have said they would like to pass the sanctions by the end of the week, when lawmakers are set to leave for an extended recess. But votes have not yet been scheduled and could still get caught up in partisan wrangling.
(Editing by Todd Eastham; Editing by Peter Cooney)
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