The European Union has intensified pressure on Iran by imposing asset freezes and travel restrictions on an additional 180 individuals and entities involved with Iran’s nuclear program. The EU is also studying additional measures targeting Iran’s energy sector.
The EU sanctions are the latest in a series of steps taken by the international community, including the U.S., aimed at increasing pressure on Iran after a report from the International Atomic Energy Agency presented evidence that the Iranian regime has worked in secret on possible military uses of nuclear power.
The additional U.S. sanctions target Iran’s petrochemical sector and expand energy sanctions. And, for the first time, the U.S. identified the entire Iranian banking sector – including the Central Bank of Iran – as a threat to governments or financial institutions that do business with the United States.
In testimony before congress, U.S. Treasury Undersecretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence David Cohen said that identifying Iran’s whole banking sector as a risk to the global financial system sends a clear message: “Any financial institution that transacts with any Iranian bank, including the Central Bank of Iran, runs a grave risk of facilitating Iran’s illicit activities,” said Mr. Cohen. “The U.S.,” he added, “is not acting alone. The U.K. and Canada took similarly strong actions on November 21 to protect their respective financial sectors from the Iranian threat.”
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the new measures “represent a significant ratcheting up of pressure on Iran, its sources of income and its illegal activities:”
“They build on an extensive existing sanctions regime put into place by the UN Security Council and a large number of countries, including our own, acting nationally and multilaterally to implement the Council’s measures. And these sanctions are already having a dramatic effect. They have almost completely isolated Iran from the international financial sector and have made it very risky and costly a place to do business.”
U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said as the new sanctions are put in place, the U.S. continues to explore other measures. “The policies Iran is pursuing are unacceptable,” said Mr. Geithner, “and until Iran’s leadership agrees to abandon this dangerous course, we will continue to use tough and innovative means to impose severe economic and financial consequences on Iran’s leadership.”