The Bush administration levied harsh new sanctions on Iran.
The sanctions affect 20 Iranian companies, major banks and individuals, as well as the defense ministry. Tehran is accused of Middle East terrorism, exporting arms and nuclear proliferation.
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, at a news conference announcing the sanctions, said they were part of a comprehensive policy by Washington to confront the Iranian threat. She also said that Washington was willing to negotiate with Iran for a diplomatic solution.
The unilateral sanctions freeze the assets of the groups named, including three state-owned banks, and forbid Americans from doing business with them. Companies outside the United States doing business with the Iranian groups also could face U.S. financial penalty.
Rice said the elite Quds military guard, which is affected by the sanctions, is providing “material support” for Hezbollah in Lebanon, the Taliban in Afghanistan and Hamas in the Gaza Strip, and is responsible for the deaths of American soldiers in Iraq.
The sanctions are the harshest against Iran since the takeover of the U.S. Embassy in 1979.