WASHINGTON, July 1 (Xinhua) -- U.S. President Barack Obama on Thursday signed a new Iran sanction bill into law, which is described by him as "striking at the heart" of Iranian government's nuclear ability.
|U.S. President Barack Obama signs the Iran Sanctions Act at the White House in|
Washington July 1, 2010. The bill imposes tough new sanctions "striking at the
heart of Iranian government ability to fund and develop its nuclear program",
Obama said. (Photo: Xinhua/AFP photo)
The bill, signed in the East Room of the White House, imposes tough new sanctions "striking at the heart of the Iranian government's ability to fund and develop its nuclear program," Obama said in a statement released by the White House.
The legislation was approved by U.S. Senate and House in quick succession On June 24.
"We are showing the Iranian government that its actions have consequences," Obama said, warning that if Iran persists its current course, "the pressure will continue to mount, and its isolation will continue to deepen."
"There should be no doubt -- the United States and the international community are determined to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons," he said.
The new sanctions, described by Obama as the "toughest" ones ever passed by the Congress, penalize international firms assisting Iran's energy industry and ban U.S. banks from dealing with foreign banks linked to its Revolutionary Guards or nuclear programs.
The measures are seen as aimed at cutting Iran's access to imports of gasoline and isolating it further from the international financial system. Iran, though a major oil producer, heavily relies on imports of refined oil products such as gasoline.
In the statement, Obama accused Iran of being the only one signatory to the NPT (Non-Proliferation Treaty) that has been unable to convince the international nuclear watchdog that its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes.
"To date, Iran has chosen the path of defiance. That is why we have steadily built a broader and deeper coalition of nations to pressure the Iranian government," he said.
On June 9, the UN Security Council adopted a resolution, imposing the fourth round of sanctions on Iran since 2006.
On June 16, U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner announced that the U.S. government will extend sanctions against more Iranian individuals and entities, including the Post Bank of Iran, Revolutionary Guards commanders, Iranian shipping companies and so on.
The new sanctions imposed by the U.S. Congress and government go far beyond the UN resolution both in scale and scope.
However, Obama added in the statement that the door to diplomacy is still open, urging Iran to meet its international obligations.
"That is the Iranian government's choice. And it remains our hope that they choose this path, even as we are clear-eyed about the difficult challenges ahead," Obama said.
Iran has shown a defiant attitude toward new U.S. sanctions.
On Thursday, Iranian Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani said in Damascus that the new sanctions against Iran are "meaningless."
"We regard the U.S. practices as a hollow political movement," Larijani said at a press conference in the Iranian embassy in Damascus.
Larijani also played down the effect of the sanctions imposed by the UN Security Council on Iran, warning that Iran will retaliate countries that check its ships.
"We have strong economic and military relationship with Russia," he said, underlining that the Russian stance on the UN sanctions will not undermine the ties between Moscow and Tehran.
On Monday, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said that the United States will lose out by adopting sanctions against Iran.
"By these sanctions, they (the Americans) in fact sanction themselves," Ahmadinejad told a press conference in Tehran. "They are unhappy with Iran's boosting economic relations with others," he added.
Ahmadinejad said Iran can meet its oil and gas consumption with its own production. He also listed three preconditions for restarting talks on the Iranian nuclear issue.
Iran is ready to talk, but only on the basis of a fuel swap agreement with Brazil and Turkey, he added.
The Iran sanctions bill passed by the U.S. Congress stirred up various reactions in the international community.
The Russian Foreign Ministry said U.S. unilateral sanctions greatly exceeded the ones imposed by the UN, adding it was unacceptable for the United States to put itself above the UN.
The Russian side also said the sanctions would bring negative impacts on its cooperation with Iran in the areas of trade and energy.
The European Union (EU) announced new restrictive measures on Iran over its nuclear program at a summit on June 17, expressing its worries on the issue.
The EU measures focused on the areas of trade, especially dual-use goods. The country's transport sector and key sectors of the gas and oil industry were also included in the package of restrictive measures.
France has asked for severe sanctions against Iran, but also called for talks within the UN framework to resolve the issue as quickly as possible.
The new UN sanctions were not aimed at punishing Iran, but at convincing the country's leaders to return to the negotiating table, French President Nicolas Sarkozy said during a meeting with his Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev on June 19.
- Iran: U.S. sanctions meaningless 2010-07-02
- Obama signs new sanctions bill against Iran 2010-07-02
- Obama signs sanction bill "striking at heart" of Iran's nuke ability 2010-07-02
- Obama to sign new sanctions bill against Iran Thursday 2010-07-01
- Obama, Saudi King discuss Iran, Middle East peace 2010-06-30