Iran sanctions 311.
(photo credit: Associated Press)
WASHINGTON – America’s international partners are now more willing to resort to
sanctions and otherwise pressure Iran than in the past, a top US Treasury
official has told The Jerusalem Post.
RELATED'US will attack Iran if it must'Obama welcomes Iran sanctions
“There’s a much wider understanding
that we now need to turn to pressure and that everyone needs to do it together
to be effective,” said Stuart Levey, the US Treasury under secretary for
terrorism and financial intelligence, before his trip to Europe this past week
to coordinate sanctions.
His visit came following days after US President
Barak Obama signed sweeping unilateral sanctions affecting foreign companies
doing business with Iran. While those businesses’ home countries have long
objected to such a US move, Levey’s comments suggested that they were more
accepting of the measure given international frustration with Iran.
administrations in the past have resisted exercising unilateral sanctions –
narrower legislation passed in the 1990s was almost never utilized by the
executive branch – out of the concern that it could alienate overseas
Levey’s trip to Berlin, Paris and Brussels indicated a greater
willingness on the part of the Obama administration to make use of the expanded
authorities granted in the new law.
While the US sanctions seek to bar
Iranian imports of refined petroleum, a step Europeans governments are all but
certain not to take themselves, there are expected to be large areas of
agreement between the US and EU.
“In contrast with the American
legislation, EU sanctions will not likely go after the supply of gasoline, but
they will target key areas in the Iranian energy sector, including investment
and the transfer of critical European know-how on which the Iranian oil and
natural sectors are highly dependent,” said one source familiar with the
Though the US sanctions go beyond the UN Security Council
resolution, Levey said the “quite powerful” package of financial provisions
“really is consistent with what the UN Security Council has said and what the EU
is already talking about.”
Sanctions expert Mark Dubowitz of the
Foundation for Defense of Democracies explained that by emphasizing the “nexus
between the Iranian energy sector and proliferation,” the preamble to the UN
resolution “provides the political predicate for Europe to roll out its own
tough energy-related sanctions.”
The political context is also
significant for the Obama administration as it balances maintaining
international partnership on sanctions with satisfying the demands of a domestic
constituency expecting strong implementation of the new unilateral
“The Obama administration is serious about sanctions
enforcement and Congress is serious about making sure that the
remains serious about sanctions enforcement,” Dubowitz said.
administration’s preference is to implement sanctions in a
multilateral and collaborative way in close consultation with its allies
Europe,” he said.
But he stressed, “In the absence of meaningful
sanctions from US allies, the administration will face intense political
pressure to implement US unilateral sanctions.”