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Posted at 4:10 PM ET, 12/21/2010

Treasury tightens Iran economic squeeze

By Joby Warrick

The Obama administration on Tuesday announced a further tightening of economic sanctions against Iran, actions intended to pressure Iran over its nuclear program and aid to terrorist groups.

Treasury Department officials added five new companies or institutions and one Iranian businessman to a U.S. blacklist, effectively freezing their U.S. assets and barring American companies from doing business with them. All were linked by U.S. officials to Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps or to a shipping company used by Iran to smuggle parts for its advanced missiles and nuclear facilities.

The new measures were the latest in a series of moves intended to sharpen the economic pain for Tehran in advance of a new round of nuclear talks late next month. Administration officials say the existing sanctions are having a cascading effect across multiple sectors of Iran's economy, including petroleum production, capital investment and shipping.

"Our policy is to continue to impose pressure on Iran as long as it continues to violate its obligations," said Stuart Levey, Treasury undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence.

One of the firms added to the blacklist on Tuesday was Moallem Insurance Co., an Iranian company that provides maritime insurance for the shipping conglomerate Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines, or IRISL. The shipping firm, which is already subject to international sanctions, has been dropped by several major international insurance providers in recent months and has now defaulted on more than half a billion dollars in loans, Treasury officials said.

Also named to the list were the transportation firm Liner Transport Kish and two banks, Ansar Bank and Mehr Bank, all of which were linked by U.S. officials to the Revolutionary Guard Corps; as well as the quasi-governmental financial services organization Bonyad Taavon Sepah and its executive director, Parviz Fattah.

By Joby Warrick  | December 21, 2010; 4:10 PM ET
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The only effective sanction is oil sanction. US must hit their cashflow, otherwise they buy their way out of other petty sanctions.

Posted by: Allan10 | December 21, 2010 5:12 PM | Report abuse

Firstly, what business is it of the USA's as to Iran's nuclear program? Iran is on the other side of the planet, its nuclear program is closely and intrusively monitored by the IAEA and Iran is under no obligation to even discuss its nuclear program with any other nation, especially the USA, with which it has no diplomatic relations.

The actions of the Americans are nothing more than a continuing course of bullying and intimidation to force Iran to abrogate its legal rights. Iran has the right to enrich uranium and nobody has the right to demand that Iran cease this legal activity.

It is obvious that no matter what Iran does, the USA will continue to bully and provoke it. This is the same technique that the Americans used on Iraq, lying about WMD, imposing sanctions and threatening attack until they actually did illegally attack and invade that nation.

Knowing this, the best thing that Iran could do is to withdraw from the NPT, kick out the IAEA inspectors and start building as many nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles as possible.

The reason for this is simple - no matter what the Iranians do to appease the Americans, nothing will help - the Americans will continue their threats and intimidation until they get what they want from Iran - a change of government and access to Iranian oil.

So the only way Iran can continue to exist in its present form is to have a massive deterrent, such as an arsenal of nuclear weapons, because the world knows that the Americans are too gutless to attack any nation that can cause them unacceptable losses.

And if the Americans attack, Iran will have the legal right to attack the USA, not just in the Middle East, but right in the heart of the US continent. The Iranians probably have their people in place already as a contingency measure, but the USA, with its porous borders, would not be much of a problem for the Iranians.

The Americans are not the only people who can wage war and we've seen that the Americans are not very good at it anyway. The Iranians might shock the Americans more than they would imagine, if the Americans are stupid enough to attack them.

Posted by: ziggyzap | December 22, 2010 12:00 AM | Report abuse

You write: "what business is it of the USA's as to Iran's nuclear program?"
Iran is a destabilizing, antidemocratic force in a very unstable and strategic region. It threatens our allies. It sponsors terrorism. And it's a signatory to the IAEA.
You write: "no matter what the Iranians do to appease the Americans, nothing will help . . . [until there is] a change of government and access to Iranian oil."
I'm sure the Iranians would love to sell us their oil, so that can't be it. And this isn't about American demands. Iran is a signatory to the IAEA and has violated its international obligations. Iran has offered precious little to suggest that its violations are not in pursuit of a nuclear weapons program.

Posted by: mattman18 | December 22, 2010 2:23 AM | Report abuse

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