U.S. targets ports, airline in new Iran sanctions

WASHINGTON (JTA) — The Obama administration expanded Iran sanctions to an Iranian airline and an operator of ports.

The new sanctions, announced Thursday in a joint statement by the U.S. Treasury and State departments, target Tidewater Middle East Co., which operates a number of ports, and Iran Air.

Both entities have ties to the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, which have already been sanctioned for effectively running Iran’s suspected nuclear weapons program, the statement said.

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee praised the new sanctions. In a statement, it said it encouraged President Obama "to build on today’s action by fully enforcing the law and imposing sanctions on foreign firms that continue to conduct prohibited business with Iran."

The decision also won plaudits from Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), who had expressed concerns that the Obama administration was not sufficiently dedicated to implementing sanctions in the wake of the departure earlier this year of Stuart Levey, the Treasury undersecretary who was the architect of the sanctions regime.

Kirk suggested that the way was now clear to confirm Levey’s designated successor, David Cohen.

"Undersecretary Cohen has proven himself to be a worthy successor to former Undersecretary Levey," he said.  "He has my confidence."

Kirk urged the Obama administration to work with European nations to squeeze the Central Bank of Iran until it "collapsed."

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