Iran faces fresh Western sanctions over nuclear plans

 

Hillary Clinton warned Iran it faced increasing isolation

The US, UK and Canada have announced new sanctions against Iran amid growing concern over its nuclear programme.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke of a "significant ratcheting-up of pressure" on Iran.

The UK said earlier it was cutting all ties with Iranian banks, while Canada said it was banning exports for the petrochemical, oil and gas industries.

A UN report has given the strongest evidence yet that Iran is seeking nuclear weapons, but Iran denies this.

Tehran insists its nuclear programme is solely for civilian purposes.

The report, by the UN's nuclear watchdog (IAEA), said Iran had carried out tests "relevant to the development of a nuclear device".

But despite the report, Iran was not referred to the UN Security Council because Russia and China were opposed to the move.

Russia has described the new sanctions as "unacceptable and against international law".

"This practice seriously complicates moves for constructive dialogue with Tehran," said a statement from the Russian Foreign Ministry.

"We believe that the constant stepping up of sanctions has long since transcended the boundaries of solving non proliferation tasks in the context of the Iranian nuclear programme," the statement said.

'Money laundering'

Analysis

In recent years, the UN Security Council has imposed four rounds of sanctions on Iran - designed principally to prevent the country from getting hold of the materials needed to make weapons of mass destruction. In addition, a number of Western countries have added their own unilateral measures and restrictions.

It is worth saying that Iranian banks and businesses already face a number of restrictions in the West. So these latest measures - in themselves - are unlikely to make Iran's government change its behaviour.

Western officials say that they hope that other countries will also announce measures of their own.

But it is not yet clear which will choose to do so. Many nations - including China - buy Iranian crude oil and they use Iranian banks to clear their transactions.

Mrs Clinton said that Iran's petrochemical industry, oil and gas industry and financial sector would be targeted by the sanctions.

"The message is clear," she said. "If Iran's intransigence continues, it will face increasing pressure and isolation. Today, the United States is taking a series of steps to sharpen this choice."

Speaking at a news conference at the State Department in Washington, she said the US expected "additional sanctions" by other countries in the days ahead.

The US also named Iran a "primary money laundering concern".

The US Treasury Secretary, Timothy Geithner, who appeared with Mrs Clinton at the news conference, warned that international banks should be wary of doing any business with Iran that might aid its nuclear programme.

"Financial institutions around the world should think hard about the risks of doing business with Iran," Mr Geithner said.

US firms were also warned against dealing with Iranian banks.

President Barack Obama said in a written statement that the United States had identified "the entire Iranian banking sector - including the Central Bank of Iran - as a threat to governments or financial institutions that do business with Iranian banks".

"As long as Iran continues down this dangerous path, the United States will continue to find ways, both in concert with our partners and through our own actions, to isolate and increase the pressure upon the Iranian regime," he said.

The British Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, had earlier said that all UK credit and financial institutions had to cease trading with Iran's banks from Monday afternoon.

"We believe that the Iranian regime's actions pose a significant threat to the UK's national security and the international community," he said.

"Today's announcement is a further step to preventing the Iranian regime from acquiring nuclear weapons."

It is the first time the UK has cut off a country's banking sector in this way.

The UN Security Council has already passed four rounds of sanctions against Iran for refusing to halt uranium enrichment.

Highly enriched uranium can be processed into nuclear weapons.

The US has already slapped sanctions on dozens of Iranian government agencies, officials and businesses over the nuclear programme.

Iran's deputy oil minister Abdolhossein Bayat said the new sanctions would not stop Iran exporting petrochemicals to the European Union, according to the semi-official Mehr news agency.

The agency said Iran had an 11% share of the European market.

 

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  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 371.

    Just a thought...as an Iranian or Per"sh"ian, depending on whether your proud to be an Iranian or not, I was wondering what these "new" sanctions are? Iranian banks have been unable to transfer, receive utilise western banking services for over 4 years now! I should know!!! Great PR stunt though HM Government...

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 331.

    No nation should have WMDs - & the ones which have them have proved themselves time and again to be totally unable to act responsibly on the international stage. I wish we could elect a government that doesn't follow unthinkingly in America's footsteps all the time, We are a European country, not a state of the Union. If I wanted to be a US citizen, I'd apply through the proper channels, thanks.

  • rate this
    +8

    Comment number 207.

    As someone that has visited Iran I can say that the majority of the population just want dependable cheap power. Whilst the government may or may not be developing weapons its certainly not the desire of the people.

    If Iran just want power why doesn't UK, US & Canada help them build a Thorium reactor? Its cheaper to run and can't produce weapons material? If Iran object then they do want weapons!

  • rate this
    -3

    Comment number 59.

    I like most people would love WMD to be removed from the whole world, but i'm a realist.

    People have commented on the fact that the UK and USA have these weapons so we're being hypocritical. This may be the case, but I trust Cameron & Obama not to fire them at people because they don't like or agree with them.....the same cannot be said for Mahmoud Ahmadinejad or Kim. Jong-il

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 36.

    Iran/Persia like all nations has the right to whatever weapons or technologies their nations can afford to build or produce, the only reason to prevent or prohib a nation from aquiring/developing these kinds of technologies are ones with a clear record of using such weapons to further their own ends or allowing others to use them to achieve their ends.

 

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