Fact Sheet: U.S. Pressure and Sanctions Against Iran
As part of our ongoing efforts to increase the cost of Iran’s failure to live up to its international obligations regarding its nuclear program, today the United States announced the imposition of new sanctions against Iran. These measures build upon the framework that this Administration has established, which is comprised of national and multilateral sanctions that have contributed to what Iranian President Ahmadinejad recently called “the heaviest economic onslaught on a nation in history.” Our sanctions have:
- Slowed the Iranian nuclear program. The former head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, Ali Salehi, admitted in 2010 that sanctions have delayed Iran’s enrichment program. Iranian officials have long complained that sanctions have limited their access to nuclear technology and information. Sanctions have sensitized countries to the risk of doing business regarding items that can be used to further Iran’s nuclear program, resulting in Iran’s inability to acquire thousands of a dual-use nature. The United States has also made use of the inspection provisions contained in United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1929 to work with partners to deny Iran access to items it has procured and to call out clearly the extent of Iran’s sanctions evasion.
- Stymied Iran’s access to the international financial system. U.S. sanctions on Iranian financial institutions paved the way for Iran’s near-total isolation from the international financial system. Under this Administration, we have tightened Iran’s access by imposing sanctions on dozens of firms and financial institutions that were enabling Iran to evade international sanctions. UNSCR 1929 explicitly calls on states to prevent the provision of financial services, including insurance and re-insurance, that could contribute to Iran’s illicit nuclear and missile-related activities. Iran has been forced to resort to exotic, expensive, and cumbersome methods to engage in the most basic of financial transactions. Today’s announcement that the United States has identified Iran as a jurisdiction of primary money laundering concern is the latest in our efforts to inform the international financial community of the risks involved in doing business with Iran.
- Hindered Iran’s oil and gas sector. U.S. sanctions have deterred investment in Iran’s oil and gas sector for years. However, with this Administration’s robust implementation of both the Iran Sanctions Act (ISA) and the Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability, and Divestment Act (CISADA), we have been successful in pushing Iran’s erstwhile foreign partners to exit Iran. The Iranian oil ministry acknowledged publicly that it is $100 billion short in investment that it needs to develop this sector; we are confident that, as a result of our sanctions, Iran will not receive this assistance. Today, we have expanded our already robust sanctions in this regard today through our decision to make sanctionable the provision of certain goods, services, technology, and support to Iran’s oil, gas, and petrochemical industries. UNSCR 1929 notes the potential connection between Iran’s revenues derived from its energy sector and the funding of Iran’s proliferation-sensitive nuclear activities. And the EU, Japan, South Korea, Canada, and several others have taken similar steps to prohibit support to Iran’s energy sector.
- Exposed Iran’s support for terrorism. We have designated Iran as a state sponsor of terrorism and used our counterterrorism authorities to impose sanctions on Iranian individuals and entities responsible for terrorism. This includes the IRGC-Qods Force and, in October, the five individuals in connection with the alleged plot to assassinate Saudi Ambassador al-Jubeir in Washington, D.C. We have also used these authorities to identify other ways in which Iran contributes to terrorism, such as its facilitation of the efforts of al Qa’ida members operating in Iran.
- Demonstrated our support for universal human rights. Beyond our international dialogue and our civil society outreach programs, we have used our sanctions authorities to impose consequences on those who are responsible for serious human rights violations in Iran. We intend to make additional use of this tool, to continue to demonstrate our solidarity with those in Iran striving for acknowledgment of these rights by Iranian authorities, and to encourage U.S. partners to take similar steps.
The sanctions that we have imposed – along with our partners – have been targeted against Iran’s illicit conduct and the mechanisms by which Iran supports these activities. However, Iran has decided to utilize even its otherwise legitimate financial institutions and firms to support its illicit activities. This has resulted in growing numbers of its firms, banks, and individuals involving themselves in illicit conduct, and therefore increased Iranian exposure to sanctions. As long as Iran’s illicit conduct continues, the United States will be unrelenting in our efforts to expose Iranian cover organizations, deceptive business practices, and other efforts to evade sanctions.