The Obama administration on Monday announced a new round of sanctions against Iran, but what do they entail?
- Uses a section of the Patriot Act to identify for the first time Iran's entire banking sector, including the country's central bank, as a threat to other governments and institutions. The designation of Iran as a "primary money laundering concern" will require increased monitoring by US banks to make sure that they and their foreign affiliates are avoiding all contact with Iranian financial institutions. The United States was joined in this action by Britain and Canada.
- Imposes sanctions on Iran's petrochemical industry, prohibiting US companies from providing goods, services and technology to support Iran's production of petrochemicals. This industry represents Iran's second biggest export after crude oil.
- Expands existing energy sanctions with the aim of making it more difficult for Iran to operate, maintain and modernise its oil and gas sector.
- Designates 11 individuals and business entities for sanctions because of their alleged roles in assisting Iran's prohibited nuclear programs.
Israel, the United States, and the European Union maintain Iran is seeking nuclear weapons in violation of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, to which Tehran is a signatory. Iran has denied the accusations, saying its nuclear program has strictly civilian aims.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), however, has been highly critical of Iran's refusal to allow the nuclear watchdog unfettered access to its nuclear sites and has accused Tehran of "obstructing" its inspectors.
A recent IAEA report cited Western intelligence reports indicating Iran had sought nuclear technology of a strictly military nature and – in all likelihood – was continuing to do so.
Critics of the Obama administration's focus on sanctions on an increasingly intransigent regime in Tehran say sanctions have proven ineffective to date - and will not take meaningful effect in time to stop Iran from obtaining atomic weapons.