|US President Barrack Obama|
July 31 (Xinhua) -- U.S. President Barack Obama on Tuesday announced additional sanctions against Iran's energy and petrochemical sectors over the Islamic republic's
disputed nuclear program.
The Department of Treasury also targeted a Chinese bank and an Iraqi bank for "knowingly" enabling financial transactions for blacklisted Iranian banks. Obama said he
ordered the latest round of sanctions to "deter Iran from establishing payment mechanisms for the purchase of Iranian oil to circumvent existing sanctions, and utilize the
existing structure of our sanctions law, including exceptions for significant reductions in the purchase of Iranian oil."
Under an act signed by the president late last year, foreign financial institutions, whose governments still purchase Iranian crude oil as of June 28 this year, will be denied
access to the U. S. financial market. A total of 20 economies, including Japan, India, Malaysia, the Republic of Korea and China, have got U.S. waiver due to their governments'
reduced purchases of Iranian oil. "Additionally, existing sanctions on Iran's petrochemical industry are expanded by making sanctionable the purchase or acquisition of
Iranian petrochemical products," Obama said in his statement announcing the latest move. "Sanctions are also authorized for those who may seek to avoid the impact of
these sanctions, including against individuals and entities that provide material support to the National Iranian Oil Company, Naftiran Intertrade Company or the Central Bank
of Iran, or for the purchase or acquisition of U.S. bank notes or precious metals by the government of Iran," Obama added.
The president also announced that the Treasury has imposed sanctions on Bank of Kunlun in China and Elaf Islamic Bank in Iraq, alleging that they "have facilitated
transactions worth millions of dollars on behalf of Iranian banks that are subject to sanctions for their links to Iran's illicit proliferation activities."The Treasury alleged that
Bank of Kunlun has provided hundreds of millions of U.S. dollars in financial services to more than six Iranian banks that were blacklisted by Washington either for their links
with Iran's weapons of mass destruction programs or for their support for international terrorism.
The Elaf Islamic Bank was accused of facilitating "significant" financial transactions and providing "significant" financial services for one designated Iranian bank.
"By cutting off these financial institutions from the United States, today's action makes it clear that we will expose any financial institution, no matter where they are located,
that allows the increasingly desperate Iranian regime to retain access to the international financial system," Obama remarked."With these actions, we are once again
reaffirming our commitment to hold the Iranian government accountable for its actions," he said, stating that "the United States remains committed to a diplomatic solution,
but the onus is on Iran to abide by its international obligations."He threatened "increasing consequences" in case of Iran's continued non-compliance in clearing the doubts
over its nuclear program.
The UN Security Council imposed four rounds of sanctions on Iran between 2006 and 2010 over its refusal to halt its nuclear enrichment program, which Western countries
suspect could be used to develop nuclear weapons. Despite Iran's insistence that its nuclear program is for civilian use only, the United States and the European Union have
imposed extra sanctions of their own and continued to expand them over the years to cover lately Iran's oil exports, the lifeline for the country's economy. Iran had held three
rounds of talks with the U.S., Britain, France, Russia, China and Germany over its uranium enrichment program since mid-April plus two at the expert level.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, who has threatened preemptive strikes on Iran's nuclear facilities, said on Sunday in Jerusalem that the sanctions had not set
back Iran's nuclear program "one iota." Netanyahu made the comment in his meeting with Mitt Romney, the Republican presidential candidate set to face Obama in the
Meanwhile, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Tuesday that the economy of the Islamic republic should give up its dependance on oil exports, adding the
establishment of an Iranian oil refinery indicates the complete nationalization of the country's oil industry. The country's crude oil exports should be stopped since the issue of
oil has been presently manipulated by big powers as a means to put pressure on its producers, Ahmadinejad was quoted as saying by the official IRNA news agency.He made
the remarks in an address to a ceremony to mark the launch of Shaid Tondgouyan oil refinery's optimization units on Tuesday.
Arguing that nowadays the price of oil is determined "based on political situation (in the world) instead of economic conditions, " the president said that "If it was not so, the
real price of oil should have been very much higher in the market than what it is presently." He said that Shaid Tondgouyan oil refinery is the first refinery fully completed by
Iranian experts and is an "indication of the complete nationalization of Iran's oil industry," said the report. Ahmadinejad also underlined the world states' growing
enthusiasm for investment in Iran's oil sector, according to semi- official Fars news agency. "Presently, investment in the country's oil industry has amounted to 7.1 billion U.S.
dollars and the world is still eager to invest (in Iran)," Ahmadinejad was quoted as saying.He downplayed the effects of the Western sanctions on the country's economy and
said that "since the very day that investment in (Iran's) oil industry was sanctioned by the westerners, the trend of investment in the oil industry has actually doubled" in
speed and capacity, according to Fars. (Xinhua)