WASHINGTON – The White House implemented new sanctions against Iran Tuesday, as
the US seeks to tighten the financial screws on the regime in Tehran.
President Barack Obama issued an executive order that carries out sanctions
approved previously by Congress. The new measures include cracking down on the
provision of goods, services and technology to those who help the regime’s
repression of the Iranian people.
They also take a step toward imposing
sanctions on Iran’s natural gas exports, in addition to the ones currently in
place for petroleum.
“This action is part of our comprehensive sanctions
effort to apply pressure on the Iranian government to meet its international
obligations with regard to its nuclear program,” US National Security Council
spokesman Tommy Vietor said in a statement accompanying the sanctions
“This sanctions effort has produced profound and
But Mark Dubowitz, executive director of the
Foundation for Defense of Democracies and a proponent of increased sanctions,
said that while the sanctions have had a tremendous effect on the Iranian
economy, “there’s no evidence to date that sanctions have changed the calculus
of Iran’s leaders with respect to their pursuit of nuclear
Dubowitz described Tuesday’s action as mostly technical in
nature. Still, he said, the signing of the executive order made a significant
“For the psychology of it, repetition is the key to success of
message penetration,” he said.
“If you’re going to send a message to the
Iranian regime that the administration is serious about economically crippling
them, then I think this executive order plays an important role.”
added that there was also a political message, as Obama wanted to seem “to be
aggressive about the implementation of sanctions and is not just being dragged
kicking and screaming by Congress,” as Republicans have made out.
White House challenger Mitt Romney also took on the topic of Iran Tuesday,
telling CNN that he agreed with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s assessment
of how to limit Tehran.
“My own test is that Iran should not have the
capability of producing a nuclear weapon,” Romney said, echoing comments he made
in a major foreign policy address on Monday. “I think that’s the same test that
Binyamin Netanyahu would also apply.”
He also endorsed the idea that
lines should be set out regarding Iranian activity on its nuclear
“There has to be a recognition that there are boundaries that
the Iranians may not cross,” he said.
Romney indicated that should
Jerusalem attack Iran during his administration, “the actions of Israel would
not come as a surprise to me” because there would be clear communication between
the two countries.
Asked by Wolf Blitzer whether he would support Israel
if it launched a strike, Romney responded: “We have Israel’s back, both at the
UN, but also military.”
He stressed, however, that “we have a long way to
go before military action may be necessary.”
He continued, “Hopefully
it’s never necessary. Hopefully, through extremely tight sanctions as well as
diplomatic action, we can prevent Iran from taking a course which would lead to
them crossing that line.”
Romney reiterated to Blitzer his pledge that
his first trip abroad as president would be to Israel.
Romney has pulled
ahead of Obama for the first time in more than a month and leads 45 percent to
44 percent among likely voters, according to a Reuters/Ipsos tracking poll
released on Wednesday.
The online survey of 1,027 likely voters was
conducted between October 6 and October 10. The precision of the poll is
measured using a credibility interval, which is plus or minus 3.5 percentage
points for likely voters.
Reuters contributed to this report.