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The United States government announced new sanctions targeting Iran’s nuclear program on Friday in a move analysts say pressures Tehran to reach agreement over its uranium enrichment agenda with world powers.
More than 25 businesses, banks and individuals accused of links to Iran’s nuclear program, and of helping the Islamic Republic evade US and EU sanctions were added to the new list.
“[The] action against over 25 entities and individuals, who are involved in expanding Iran’s proliferation program, supporting terrorism in the region and helping Iran evade U.S. and international sanctions, reflects our continuing determination to take action against anyone, anywhere, who violates our sanctions,” Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence David Cohen said in a statement to the media.
Washington says that Moscow-based Asia Bank, one of the financial institutions targeted by the new sanctions regimen, had violated existing embargoes by funneling US dollars to Iranian government officials.
The new sanctions come even as Iran continues meeting with delegations representing the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council and Germany – also known as P5+1 – to reach a mechanism which sees Tehran scale back its enrichment program in exchange for a lifting of the economic embargo.
Iran and the P5+1 are expected tor each a final agreement by a November 24 deadline, which marks a year since a preliminary deal was reached in Geneva, Switzerland.
Although US President Barack Obama had vowed to veto any bill that would have increased sanctions on Iran, the White House says that Friday’s new measures fall within his pledge to hold Tehran to account.
“For the sake of our national security, we must give diplomacy a chance to succeed,” the US president previously said.
But he also repeated a warning he has since made to Iran’s leaders that they should not miss the chance to “seize this opportunity”.