The U.S. Treasury Department expanded economic sanctions on Iran Wednesday. The new sanctions were imposed on the Construction Division of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards and four of its subsidiaries.
The administration of President Barack Obama is in the process of crafting sanctions which will attempt to harm Iran's Revolutionary Guards -- the political elite in Iran -- thereby weakening President Mahmoud Ahmadinehad's government and deterring the country from developing nuclear weapons.
The first step will be to construct a United Nations Security Council resolution attacking companies and assets of the Guards, according to a report by The New York Times. One of the assets of the organization is the Tehran airport.
Later elements may include the denial of travel visas to Iranian officials and interference in investments in Iranian oil.
Making business prohibitive
In a news conference Tuesday, President Obama justified the use of sanctions by saying the US had "bent over backwards" up until now to engage Iran in diplomacy. He said the new sanctions are meant to invoke a sense of isolation for the country which has refused all international overtures toward halting nuclear buildup.
The US also aims to make business with Iran prohibitive for countries who frequently engage in commerce with noncompliant Iran.
On Tuesday, Iran announced it planned on enriching uranium to even higher 20-percent enrichment. On Monday, Iranian spiritual leader Ayatollah Ali Khameini said Iran will soon deliver a "stunning punch" to the West.
China an unknown
In order for the US sanctions to be effective, main supporters of Iran – Russia and China – will have to lend their support. According to The New York Times, America expects Russia to be supportive, though China's position remains to be seen.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has repeatedly called for "crippling sanctions" against Ahmadinejad's Iran, which has made numerous and recurring threats against Israel in the past. Israel's security establishment has alluded to the possibility of preemptively bombing Iran's nuclear facilities.
Iran continues to defend its nuclear program as a project intended to provide nuclear energy for civilian purposes.