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Daily Telegraph: US imposes strict economic sanctions on Iran

Daily Telegraph Iran Chart

EXTRACT: The sanctions could affect hundreds of foreign companies by leaving them with the choice to end their dealing with Iran or face sanctions from the US.

By Toby Harnden in Washington
Last Updated: 5:43pm BST 25/10/2007

The United States has announced its harshest action against Iran since 1979 by instituting a raft of unilateral sanctions designed to cut international financial support to Teheran’s theocratic regime.

Condoleezza Rice, the US Secretary of State, and Henry Paulson, the US Treasury Secretary, said that the unprecedented steps, which include outlawing Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps, were a response to Teheran’s support of insurgents in Iraq and its refusal to abandon its uranium enrichment programme.

The British Government immediately gave its backing to the US action, and pledged to lead the campaign for new EU and UN sanctions.

Although Miss Rice insisted that a “diplomatic solution” was possible, she described the actions as part of a decision “to confront the threatening behaviour of the Iranians”.

American officials accept they will exacerbate already rising tensions between Washington and Teheran.

Iran, she said, was “pursuing nuclear technologies that can lead to a nuclear weapon, building dangerous ballistic missiles, supporting Shia militants in Iraq and terrorists in Iraq, Afghanistan, Lebanon and the Palestinian territories, and denying the existence of a fellow member of the United Nations, threatening to wipe Israeli off the map”.

The sanctions will cut off more than 20 organisations, including individuals and companies owned or controlled by the Revolutionary Guards, from the US financial system. This will have the added consequence of making it very difficult for the 20 to operate through the international banking system.

The sanctions could affect hundreds of foreign companies by leaving them with the choice to end their dealing with Iran or face sanctions from the US.

The measures were the toughest by the US against Iran since the US Embassy in Teheran was seized in November 1979, nine months after the fall of the Shah’s regime.

The 125,000-strong Revolutionary Guard controls large sections of the Iranian economy and, according to US officials, operates front companies that deal in nuclear technology.

Along with the Iranian Defence Ministry, it has been designated a proliferator of weapons of mass destruction. “It is increasingly likely that if you are doing business with Iran you are doing business with the IRGC,” said Mr Paulson.

The Guard’s Quds Force, its foreign operations branch which is believed to number up to 15,000, was declared a “global terrorist group”.

US officials say that Quds operatives provide arms and training for Hezbollah and Hamas as well as supplying insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan with sophisticated roadside bombs.

On Sunday, Vice President Dick Cheney warned of “serious consequences” if Iran continued to pursue its uranium enrichment programme while last week President George W Bush said that “World War Three” was possible if Teheran did not abandon its nuclear ambitions.

The unilateral sanctions reflect US frustration with the blocking by Russia and China of moves, supported by Britain and France, to enact effective United Nations sanctions.

Miss Rice told Congress this week: “The international community’s got to get a lot tougher if it’s going to be resolved diplomatically.”

Addressing the Iranian people directly today, Miss Rice said: “We in the United States have no conflict with you. We want you to have every opportunity to develop and prosper in dignity, including the peaceful use of nuclear power.

“So we hope that your government will embrace the path of co-operation that we and the international community continue to offer.”

A Foreign and Commonwealth Office spokesman said: “We endorse the US administration’s efforts to apply further pressure on the Iranian regime.

“We are prepared to lead the way to a third resolution of sanctions and at the same time support tougher European Union sanctions.”

Iran has so far resisted international pressure close its nuclear programme, insisting it is purely for civil energy use. The US and other world powers believe it is attempting to enrich uranium for nuclear missiles.

This weekend Ali Larijani resigned as Teheran’s top nuclear negotiator, in a move seen as bringing military confrontation with the West a step closer.

Mr Larijani was considered a more pragmatic figure than the hardline President Ahmadinejad, who now appears in complete control of his country’s nuclear policy.
 
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2007/10/25/wiran325.xml

 

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