Obama administration expands sanctions on Iran

Washington aims new sanctions at companies tied to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corp.

Iranian cargo ship 390 (photo credit: Reuters)
Iranian cargo ship 390
(photo credit: Reuters)
WASHINGTON – The Obama administration slapped new sanctions on Iran’s shipping industry Wednesday, including on engineering and maritime companies.
The new bans apply to companies with ties to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corp, which the US sees as playing a central role in Iran’s nuclear program, terror activities and human rights violations.
“By designating the individuals and entities today, the Treasury is sending a clear signal to the international community that Iran’s attempts to evade international sanctions will not go unnoticed,” Adam Szubin, director of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, said in a released statement.
The move comes on top of sanctions imposed Tuesday on an Iranian air carrier believed to be bringing arms to Syria for use by President Bashar Assad against rebels trying to remove him from office.
In addition to the sanctions being implemented by the Treasury and the rest of the executive branch, many members in the US Congress are trying to pass legislation to grant the administration further sanctioning authority and close loopholes that exist under current law.
That effort suffered a setback Tuesday, however, when Republican Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky prevented a new sanctions bill from being approved by the Senate by unanimous consent.
The bill, which has significant bipartisan support, focuses on foreign banks that handle transactions for Iran’s national oil and tanker companies as well as existing loopholes.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid wanted to move the bill without considering amendments, which he said could drag out the process.
But Rand refused to let the bill advance without considering his amendment that nothing in the bill could be construed as an authorization of war against Iran or Syria.
In addition, several other Republicans wanted to offer amendments toughening the language.
The House has already passed its own version of the bill, and it’s not clear what avenue Reid will now take to further the legislation.
In the meantime, the steps being taken by the administration against Iran have been welcomed by several members.
Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Florida), the chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, commended the Treasury on the new sanctions, but said more must be done, particularly given “Iran’s willingness to arm the Assad regime as it brutally suppresses the Syrian people.”
She continued, “Sanctions must get much tougher, and fast, to be as effective as we need them to be.”
Reuters contributed to this report.