U.S. Plans New Sanctions On Iran’s Petrochemical Industry

The Obama administration is eager to impose new sanctions against Iran’s petrochemical industry, diplomatic sources concerned in plans said Friday.

The measures will be revealed early Monday, and they will be built on existing sanctions on Iran's oil and gas industry. Photo: D H Wright/Flickr

U.S. sanctions have already prohibited American companies to cooperate with Iran.

The new measures are supposed to bar foreign companies from doing business with Iran’s petrochemical industry, threatening them to be banned from U.S. markets, the sources revealed.

EU is expected to announce alike measures when meeting the next week, was said in a statement. The sources spoke on condition of anonymity as they are not empowered to speak on record before officials roll out the sanctions.

It was unclear what precisely the Obama administration planned to invoke to impose the sanctions or exactly how, and how much, they would hurt Iran’s petrochemical sector.

The measures are expected to be revealed early Monday, and they will be built on existing sanctions on Iran’s oil and gas industry.

According to anonymous resources U.S. wanted to send a strong signal after the UN nuclear watchdog issued a Nov. 8 report saying Iran seemed to be designing an atomic bomb and may still be secretly carrying out related research.

The United States suspects Iran in using its civil nuclear program expressing “deep and increasing concern about the unresolved issues regarding the Iranian nuclear program.” Iran denies it and adds that the program is absolutely peaceful stating the accusations as “unbalanced” and “politically motivated.”

The report caused tensions in the Middle East and redoubled calls in Western capitals for stiffer sanctions against Tehran. It should be noticed that last year that the U.S. Congress approved sanctions against Iran’s energy and banking sectors, by threatening to penalize foreign companies that did business with Tehran.

The Obama administration is feeling pressure from Congress to turn up the heat on Iran and sanctioning the Iranian central bank.

The sources revealed that it had been held the discussion of sanctions on the Iranian financial sector, which can possibly limit certain transactions through the Iranian central bank, but not through a blanket effort to cut it off entirely.

 U.S. officials reported that the administration has had to cut off the central bank out of concern as it could drive up oil prices and hurt the U.S. economy.

Republican Sen. Mark Kirk introduced an amendment that would set sanctions on foreign financial institutions which do business with Iran’s central bank.

“There was displeasure at the top with the view that it’s all or nothing … (and that if it’s all) we take out our own economic recovery,” a U.S. official said. “The instruction was given to look for other possible avenues.”

House Democratic Representative’s, Howard Berman, similar proposal has already passed a House committee.

“The administration is trying to get ahead of what is coming in Congress,” a source said, saying the administration was “looking for ideas, but ideas short of what is being proposed on the Hill, which many people think would be devastating.”

The United States and its allies in Europe, such as Britain, France and Germany, are trying to find ways to raise the pressure on Iran without going to the U.N. Security Council, where fresh sanctions are all but sure to be opposed by Russia and China.

The U.N. Security Council has already passed four resolutions imposing sanctions on Iran but both Russia and China have made clear their reluctance to go further for now. [Via Reuters and CNN]

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