Posted at: 08/03/2013 10:05 AM

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Fresh US penalties will greet Iran’s new leader

(AP) WASHINGTON - As Iran’s new president takes over, fresh U.S. penalties against the country appear to be a done deal.

Seventy-six senators have written President Barack Obama demanding tougher punishment on Iran’s economy until the Islamic republic scales back its nuclear program. It also urges Obama to consider military options while keeping the door open to diplomacy.

The Senate letter comes days after the House overwhelmingly passed new restrictions on Iran’s oil sector and its mining and construction industries. Senators are expected to take up the same sanctions package in September.

The Obama administration is concerned Congress’ effort could undercut Iran’s relative moderate President-elect Hasan Rouhani (hah-SAHN’ roh-HAH’-nee), who takes office Sunday.

The U.S. believes Iran is trying to develop nuclear weapons. Iran insists its program is for peaceful energy and research.

(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)