Obama: US and Israel in 'Lockstep' on Iran Crisis
President Barack Obama is implementing a new raft of sanctions targeting the Iranian government and Central Bank saying they are a part of close cooperation with officials in Israel.
A statement accompanying Obama's order on Monday said they were necessary due to the “deceptive practices” of Iran's Central Bank and the “unacceptable risk” posed to the international financial system by Iran’s activities.
Obama also told NBC that the United States was working "in lockstep with Israel to resolve the crisis, hopefully diplomatically," noting that previous rounds of sanctions were already having an effect in Iran.
"They are feeling the pinch. They are feeling the pressure," Obama told the network.
The sanctions were approved in late December by US lawmakers, but Obama did not immediately put them into effect.
Analysts say the timing of the order coincides with statements by Obama that he did not believe Israel had made a firm decision to attack Iran's nuclear program.
Obama believes it possible to resolve the standoff over Iran’s nuclear program through diplomatic efforts. His administration has sought to use sanctions as one way to pressure Iran to halt its nuclear program.
However, Israeli officials have said Iran is entering "the immunity zone" wherein they will be too fortified for a military strike to stop their push for nuclear weapons.
Last week, Defense Minister Ehud Barak indicated that even waiting until summer for sanctions to take effect could be too long to wait.
His comments led his US counterpart, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, to say he believed Israel would strike Iran before June. Many believe Panetta's statement was intended to make an Israeli strike on Iran more difficult.
Observers say rising tensions between Jerusalem and Washington over Tehran have put Obama in the corner and forced him to implement the sanctions to buy more time.
Israeli officials have also expressed the belief that Obama more concerned about his upcoming reelection bid and keeping gas prices down than he is world security
Obama's decision to implement the new round of sanctions comes two weeks after a similar round of sanctions implemented by the European Union.
Iran says the sanctions are unjust and insists its nuclear program is intended for peaceful purposes. However, in late 2011, The International Atomic Energy Agency published a report saying Iran had sought - and continued to seek - nuclear technology of a military nature.
They have also said Iran's continued refusal to allow inspectors access to its nuclear facilities under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty is a clear sign of subterfuge that must end immediately.
Iranian officials calling for Israel's destruction have referred to it as a "one bomb state."