US sanctions hit Iran oil exports, extend to banks in Iraq and China


Times are getting tougher in Iran as sanctions set in.


Behrouz Mehri

US President Barack Obama announced new sanctions today against Iran's oil export sector, as well as sanctions against banks in China and Iraq said to be doing business with Iran, AFP reported.

The sanctions were described in an executive order from the president, submitted in advance of congressional votes on further sanctions against Iran's financial, energy and shipping industries, Reuters and Politico reported. The order also came on the heels of criticism from Republican presidential challenger Mitt Romney that the Obama administration has not done enough to prevent Iran from arming itself with nuclear weapons, according to Reuters.

The sanctions target foreign banks that handle transactions for Iranian oil and from the National Iranian Oil Company or Naftiran Intertrade Company, according to Reuters. The executive order also named China's Bank of Kunlun and Iraq's Elaf Islamic Bank specifically for providing services to Iranian banks.

The president imposed sanctions "in light of the Government of Iran's use of revenues from petroleum, petroleum products, and petrochemicals for illicit purposes, Iran's continued attempts to evade international sanctions through deceptive practices, and the unacceptable risk posed to the international financial system by Iran's activities," according to a copy of the order posted on the White House website.

The move intends to severely restrict sales of Iranian petrochemical products as well as crude oil, CNN reported, adding that there was no immediate response to the news from the Iranian government or the companies cited in Obama's order.

"We have thrown the book at the Iranian government in terms of leaving no stone unturned in the sanctions regime. And we are determined and committed to preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon," Ben Rhodes, deputy national security adviser for strategic communications, told Politico.