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New U.S. sanctions target Iranian currency, automotive industry

WASHINGTON (JTA) — The Obama administration expanded Iran sanctions to target entities outside Iran trading substantially in its currency and automotive sector.

Sanctions in place aimed at forcing Iran to make its suspected nuclear weapons program more transparent already target Iran’s energy sector.

The new sanctions hit foreign financial institutions that “knowingly conduct or facilitate significant transactions for the purchase or sale of the Iranian rial, or that maintain significant accounts outside Iran denominated in the Iranian rial,” a White House statement said on Monday.

The sanctions came in the form of an executive order.

“While the rial has lost half of its value since the beginning of 2012 as a result of our comprehensive sanctions, this is the first time that trade in the rial has been targeted directly for sanctions,” the statement said.

The statement also described the automotive sector as a “major revenue generator” for Iran.

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee applauded the expanded sanctions.

“We urge the administration to continue escalating the pressure on Iran and those individuals, companies and countries that violate our sanctions,” it said in a statement, noting in particular countries that fail to significantly reduce their purchases of Iranian crude oil.

“We also urge the administration to continue to emphasize that the U.S. is prepared to use all available measures to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapons capability,” AIPAC said.

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