Saturday, President Obama signed into law H.R. 1540, the “National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012." This bill includes provisions related to Iran, specifically sanctions on foreign financial institutions that do business with the Central Bank of Iran (CBI), including for oil transactions.
The United States has already had sanctions on CBI and Iran’s oil industry for decades -- so to make this legislation effective, the Obama Administration worked closely with Congress to shape the Iran provisions so that this new tool would increase the likelihood that other countries would stop doing business with CBI and Iran’s oil sector. This is important because the most effective approach is one that involves multilateral participation and is timed and phased to avoid negative repercussions to international oil markets and instead focus pressure on Iran.
For three years, President Obama has led an unprecedented effort to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. Through a two-track policy -- one track increasing the pressure on Iran to induce it live up to its responsibilities in the international community and the other track offering a very credible option for engagement, provided Iran accepts its responsibilities to the international community -- the United States has built a strong international coalition against Iran’s nuclear weapons aspirations. As a result, Iran now faces the toughest sanctions regime in the world and is more isolated diplomatically, both regionally and globally.
The measure signed into law Saturday can be a significant escalation in the pressure on Iran, and President Obama has made clear that the United States is committed to increasing the pressure on Iran until it changes course.
Jarrod Bernstein is the Director of Jewish Outreach in the Office of Public Engagement.