Photo: AP Photo/Franklin Reyes
The U.S. stepped up the pressure against the Iranian government Wednesday, introducing new sanctions in response to its nuclear program and targeting institutions it says are censoring political dissent.The Department of Treasury, working with Department of State, expanded the scope of sanctionable transactions from Iranian banking institutions, and are restricting the use of oil revenue held in foreign financial institutions.
The new sanctions mean that Iranian oil revenue will be effectively “locked up,” sharply restricting Iran’s ability to repatriate or move funds across jurisdictions. Exceptions are still being made for humanitarian items, such as food, medicine, and medical devices.
To counter censorship inside Iran, the U.S. has also sanctioned one individual and four Iranian governmental entities, saying in a statement that they “restrict or deny the free flow of information to or from the Iranian people.”
The organisations named — Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting, Iranian Cyber Police, Communications Regulatory Authority, and Iran Electronic Industries — have all engaged in censorship or intimidation efforts against Iranian citizens, including jamming foreign television broadcasts, arrests of activists, and blocking social networking sites, the Treasury said.
“Our policy is clear – so long as Iran continues to fail to address the concerns of the international community about its nuclear program, the U.S. will impose tighter sanctions and intensify the economic pressure against the Iranian regime,” said David Cohen, the Treasury’s Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence.
“We will also target those in Iran who are responsible for human right abuses, especially those who deny the Iranian people their basic freedoms of expression, assembly and speech.”
The latest sanctions come on top of a number of restrictions from both the U.S. and other foreign governments, and have already had a devastating effect on the Iranian economy. Iran’s fragile currency, the rial, has plummeted in value against the dollar over the past year.
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