“Because of our efforts, Iran is under greater pressure than ever before…Few thought that sanctions could have an immediate bite on the Iranian regime. They have, slowing the Iranian nuclear program and virtually grinding the Iranian economy to a halt in 2011. Many questioned whether we could hold our coalition together as we moved against Iran’s Central Bank and oil exports. But our friends in Europe and Asia and elsewhere are joining us. And in 2012, the Iranian government faces the prospect of even more crippling sanctions.”
President Barack Obama
March 4, 2012
In July 2012, the Obama Administration took two actions to further isolate and penalize Iran for its refusal to live up to its international obligations regarding its nuclear program, and to hold accountable financial institutions that knowingly provide financial services to Iranian banks that are under U.S. sanctions for their connection to illicit activities. These steps are part of President Obama’s commitment to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons by raising the cost of Iran’s defiance of the international community.
Signing Executive Order “Authorizing Additional Sanctions With Respect to Iran”
Imposing Sanctions Under the Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability, and Divestment Act of 2010 (CISADA)
Today, the Department of the Treasury imposed sanctions under CISADA on Bank of Kunlun in China and Elaf Islamic Bank in Iraq, for knowingly facilitating significant transactions or providing significant financial services to Iranian banks designated for their connection to Iran’s support for terrorism or proliferation.
This action exposes the involvement of Bank of Kunlun and Elaf Islamic Bank with designated Iranian banks, in an effort to further stymie Iran’s access to the international financial system. This will also further protect the U.S. financial system from direct or indirect access by designated Iranian banks.
U.S. officials continue to engage with government and financial institutions around the world to inform the international financial community of the risks involved in doing business with Iran.
Building a Comprehensive Sanctions Strategy
Since taking office, President Obama has presented a very clear choice to the Iranian regime: comply with its international nuclear obligations and benefit from the greater economic, political, and security integration that come with being part of the international community, or face growing consequences for non-compliance. Iran has chosen to proceed down the path of international isolation, and has therefore suffered from what President Ahmadinejad called in July 2012, “the most severe and strictest sanctions ever imposed on a country”.
As part of his commitment to show the Iranian government that its actions have consequences, on July 30, 2012 President Obama signed his fifth Executive Order in 12 months targeting Iran for sanctions. These actions have:
Partnering with Congress
In addition to using Executive Orders and multilateral sanctions to intensify the consequences for Iran’s failure to comply with its international obligations, the Obama Administration has worked with Congress examining new sanctions legislation, and has made full use of existing legislative authorities.
The FY 2012 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which was enacted in December 2011, contained new sanctions on the Central Bank of Iran that the Administration has used to great effect to undermine Iran’s ability to sell its oil internationally.
In June 2010, President Obama worked with Congress to pass the Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability and Divestment Act of 2010 (CISADA), which strengthened existing U.S. sanctions against Iran in the areas of refined petroleum sales, serious human rights abuses, and Iran’s access to the international financial system.
Rallying the International Community
With President Obama’s leadership, the United States gained the support of Russia, China, and other nations to pass United Nations Security Council Resolution 1929 in June 2010, which created the most comprehensive and stinging international sanctions the Iranian regime has ever faced.
The Obama Administration also worked with allies such as the European Union, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Australia, Canada, and others to adopt additional national measures to increase pressure on the Iranian regime, including in the financial, banking, insurance, transportation, and energy sectors. Iran is now cut off from large parts of the international financial system and we are working aggressively to isolate Iran even further. In one of the most recent actions, the European Union’s embargo on Iranian oil went into full effect on July 1. This action, coupled with reductions from other countries, has cost Iran billions of dollars per month thanks to disrupted oil sales of up to 1 million barrels per day.
Targeting the Iranian Regime’s Nuclear Program Through Its Oil Revenues
Even as we intensify our pressure on the Iranian government, we hold open the door to diplomacy. Iran can choose to abide by its international obligations, honor its commitments to the International Atomic Energy Agency, and prove that its intentions are peaceful. The United States remains committed to a diplomatic solution, but the onus is on Iran. If the Iranian government continues it defiance, there should be no doubt that the United States and our partners will continue to hold Iran accountable.