U.S., EU imposing new Iran sanctions

WASHINGTON (JTA) — The Obama administration and the European Union are imposing new Iran sanctions.

The U.S. sanctions, announced Wednesday by Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, follow last week’s U.N. Security Council resolution expanding international sanctions.

However, the new U.S. sanctions — targeting banks, shippers and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps — do not derive from the Security Council sanctions. Instead they are based on existing U.S. presidential executive orders mandating sanctions against entities that facililtate Iran’s acquisition of weapons.

The Iranian Revolutionary Guards, which enforces its government’s repressive policies and is believed to be behind Iran’s suspected nuclear program, is a major target, said Stuart Levey, the Treasury’s undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence.

"It is our view that no IRGC entity should have any place in the world’s financial system," Levey told reporters in a briefing after the announcement.

Geithner said the United States in the coming weeks would be coordinating with other nations to further squeeze Iran under the new Security Council resolution, which enhances trade restrictions.

To that end, the Obama administration has named a senior State Department official, Bob Einhorn, to promote the implementation of the U.N. sanctions.

The EU measures target, among other areas, Iran’s energy sector, including bans on "new investment, technical assistance and transfers of technologies, equipment and services related to these areas, in particular related to refining, liquefaction and liquefied natural gas technology," according to a Reuters account of a statement issued Thursday in Brussels.

Some U.S. pro-Israel  groups praised the raft of new sanctions — and asked for more.

"We commend this first step and agree more must be done," the American Israel Public Affairs Committee said in a statement. "AIPAC continues to urge the Administration and our allies in Europe, Asia and across the globe to immediately implement further crippling economic, political and diplomatic sanctions on Iran before it is too late."

Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi, a founder of The Israel Project, which partnered with European Jewish bodies to promote tougher sanctions, said the governments saw containing Iranian ambitions in the region as not simply a matter of protecting Israel but of self-defense.

"They did what’s in their own best interest," she said.

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