As Iran plays “coy” with the United Nations, Western countries prepare to impose tough new sanctions on the Islamic Republic.According to ABC News, the U.S. State Department will announce new sanctions Monday to close loopholes currently used by Iran “to work around existing sanctions on its energy and financial sectors.”
The U.S. will allegedly tighten its grip on Iran's petrochemical industry, used to refine petroleum as well as produce plastic and styrofoam.The State Department is also expected to target foreign and Iranian entities that have begun to pick up the slack in the Iranian oil and gas sector, the American network reported. Many of the firms are controlled by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, as other companies pull out, afraid of running afoul of U.S. law.
In addition, the U.S. Treasury is expected to issue a ruling that Iran's financial system is a “jurisdiction of primary money laundering concern,” under section 311 of the USA Patriot Act. This finding enables the Secretary of the Treasury to require U.S. banks to perform additional reporting to ensure their corresponding foreign accounts are not indirectly dealing with Iran.European Union leaders are set to meet December 1 to decide on their own set of upgraded sanctions. In addition, Canada is also reportedly preparing a set of sanctions. “Canada will continue to work with like-minded nations on next steps,” Ottawa said during Friday's debate by the IAEA board of governors. “The question is not if, but rather the degree to which, we will act.”
Canadian media noted that it was likely that a matching announcement from the Harper government would be issued Monday “right after” the U.S. State Department released its own statement. According to Canadian government sources, “if the United States or the European Union impose stronger sanctions on Iran, Canada will at least match those sanctions,” The Globe and Mail reported.
Although few details about European plans were available, British Foreign Secretary William Hague told the UK Parliament earlier this month the government was preparing “additional measures against the Iranian financial sector, the oil and gas sector, and the designation of further entities and individuals involved with their nuclear program.”The Iranian Central Bank, however, is not yet being targeted, nor will there be bans on Iran's oil and gas sector, according to a U.S. government source quoted by ABC News, due to fears of a spike in oil prices.
None of the spokespersons for any of the governments involved were willing to comment on the matter.The news follows a November 8 report by the U.N. International Atomic Energy Agency that made it clear Iran's nuclear development program is not intended solely for peaceful domestic purposes, as it has claimed. The report detailed evidence that Iranian scientists are producing nuclear warheads to be fitted on to Shahab-3 long-range missiles. The Shahab-3 is able to reach the State of Israel.