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Obama announces additional sanctions against Iran

from:正北方网2012-08-01 14:57

WASHINGTON, July 31 (Xinhua) -- U.S. President Barack Obama on Tuesday announced additional sanctions against Iran's energy and petrochemical sectors over the Islamic republic's disputed nuclear program.

The Department of Treasury also targeted a Chinese bank and an Iraqi bank for "knowingly" enabling financial transactions for blacklisted Iranian banks.

Obama said he ordered the latest round of sanctions to "deter Iran from establishing payment mechanisms for the purchase of Iranian oil to circumvent existing sanctions, and utilize the existing structure of our sanctions law, including exceptions for significant reductions in the purchase of Iranian oil."

Under an act signed by the president late last year, foreign financial institutions, whose governments still purchase Iranian crude oil as of June 28 this year, will be denied access to the U. S. financial market.

A total of 20 economies, including Japan, India, Malaysia, the Republic of Korea and China, have got U.S. waiver due to their governments' reduced purchases of Iranian oil.

"Additionally, existing sanctions on Iran's petrochemical industry are expanded by making sanctionable the purchase or acquisition of Iranian petrochemical products," Obama said in his statement announcing the latest move.

"Sanctions are also authorized for those who may seek to avoid the impact of these sanctions, including against individuals and entities that provide material support to the National Iranian Oil Company, Naftiran Intertrade Company or the Central Bank of Iran, or for the purchase or acquisition of U.S. bank notes or precious metals by the government of Iran," Obama added.

The president also announced that the Treasury has imposed sanctions on Bank of Kunlun in China and Elaf Islamic Bank in Iraq, alleging that they "have facilitated transactions worth millions of dollars on behalf of Iranian banks that are subject to sanctions for their links to Iran's illicit proliferation activities."

The Treasury alleged that Bank of Kunlun has provided hundreds of millions of U.S. dollars in financial services to more than six Iranian banks that were blacklisted by Washington either for their links with Iran's weapons of mass destruction programs or for their support for international terrorism.

The Elaf Islamic Bank was accused of facilitating "significant" financial transactions and providing "significant" financial services for one designated Iranian bank.

"By cutting off these financial institutions from the United States, today's action makes it clear that we will expose any financial institution, no matter where they are located, that allows the increasingly desperate Iranian regime to retain access to the international financial system," Obama remarked.

"With these actions, we are once again reaffirming our commitment to hold the Iranian government accountable for its actions," he said, stating that "the United States remains committed to a diplomatic solution, but the onus is on Iran to abide by its international obligations."

He threatened "increasing consequences" in case of Iran's continued non-compliance in clearing the doubts over its nuclear program.

The UN Security Council imposed four rounds of sanctions on Iran between 2006 and 2010 over its refusal to halt its nuclear enrichment program, which Western countries suspect could be used to develop nuclear weapons.

Despite Iran's insistence that its nuclear program is for civilian use only, the United States and the European Union have imposed extra sanctions of their own and continued to expand them over the years to cover lately Iran's oil exports, the lifeline for the country's economy.

Iran had held three rounds of talks with the U.S., Britain, France, Russia, China and Germany over its uranium enrichment program since mid-April plus two at the expert level.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, who has threatened preemptive strikes on Iran's nuclear facilities, said on Sunday in Jerusalem that the sanctions had not set back Iran's nuclear program "one iota."

Netanyahu made the comment in his meeting with Mitt Romney, the Republican presidential candidate set to face Obama in the November election.

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