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House votes sanctions on Iran, North Korea, Syria

By Susan Cornwell

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation on Wednesday that would expand sanctions on Iran, cracking down on a wider range of energy issues and closing some loopholes in existing energy and financial sanctions.

Some senators in both parties are also working on legislation to tighten sanctions on Iran, the world's fifth biggest oil exporter, because of concerns it is developing a nuclear bomb.

In a 410-11 vote, the House passed a bill that would expand sanctions on companies involved in the oil industry, including on investments, selling Iran goods or services used in refineries, or providing Iran with refined products worth $5 million or more in a year.

The bill, sponsored by Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, would also place sanctions on developing infrastructure or ports, or buying Iranian sovereign debt.

Separately, the House passed a defense bill 283-136 including a provision that would impose sanctions on foreign financial institutions that do business with Iran's central bank. That measure is expected to pass the Senate and be signed into law.

The House passed another bill by Ros-Lehtinen, 410-11 to target sanctions on countries or companies that help Iran, North Korea or Syria pursue nuclear, chemical or biological weapons or develop missile programs.

Under this bill, even entities selling conventional military goods or technology to those three countries could have their assets frozen in the United States.

(Additional reporting by Roberta Rampton; editing by Anthony Boadle)