US extends sanctions to Iran’s central bank

Measure blocks financial transactions on behalf of any Iranian government institution.

US President Barack Obama 311 (R) (photo credit: REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque )
US President Barack Obama 311 (R)
(photo credit: REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque )
WASHINGTON – The White House announced tough new sanctions on Iran Monday, clamping down on the activity of the country’s Central Bank and those who do business with it.
They are the latest round of sanctions imposed after President Barack Obama signed legislation at the end of the year that ramped up US options for using sanctions to pressure the Iranians to stop their nuclear program.
“I have determined that additional sanctions are warranted, particularly in light of the deceptive practices of the Central Bank of Iran and other Iranian banks to conceal transactions of sanctioned parties,” Obama said in his message informing Congress of the move. He also pointed to the deficiencies in Iran’s anti-money laundering regime and the weaknesses in its implementation and the continuing and unacceptable risk posed to the international financial system by Iran’s activities.
Mark Dubowitz, executive director of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, said, “This executive order is the logical next step in the administration’s economic war on the Iranian regime. It is important because it blocks financial transactions on behalf of any Iranian government institution.”
Dubowitz has been advising the administration on sanctions.
The new measures came as Obama reiterated that the US prefers blocking the Iranian nuclear program through diplomatic rather than military means.
Asked by NBC Sunday whether Israel had promised to give advance warning of an attack, Obama declined to reveal the content of diplomatic conversations but said, “We are going to make sure we work in lockstep as we proceed to try to solve this, hopefully diplomatically.”
Questioned on whether he supported such a strike, Obama responded, “I don’t think that Israel has made a decision on what they need to do. I think they, like us, believe that Iran has to stand down on their nuclear weapons program.”
He said that until that happened, he thinks Israel, rightly, is going to be very concerned, and so is the US.
While reiterating that he will not take any options off the table, Obama emphasized the goal is to resolve this issue diplomatically.
“Any kind of additional military activity inside the Gulf is disruptive and has a big effect on us. It could have a big effect on oil prices.
We’ve still got troops in Afghanistan, which borders Iran.”
As for the threat of Iran attacking the US homeland, Obama said, “We don’t see any evidence that they have those intentions or capabilities right now.”
Iran was set to be one of the main subjects of conversations between Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman and American political leaders Monday and Tuesday.
Lieberman was scheduled to meet with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and several members of Congress, including House Majority Leader John Boehner and Sen. John Kerry, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, before heading to New York.