Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Obama signs order implementing tougher sanctions on Iran

President Obama on Tuesday signed an executive order tightening sanctions on Iran over its nuclear-enrichment program.

The order implements a new Iran sanctions law enacted in August.

The White House said the administration’s actions “have created unprecedented pressure on Iran’s economy.”

“The onus is on Iran to abide by its international obligations with respect to its nuclear program. If the Iranian government continues its defiance, there should be no doubt that the United States and our partners will continue to tighten our sanctions and impose increasing consequences,” National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor said in a statement. 

Iran policy has become a focus of the presidential election this year. During a speech Monday at the Virginia Military Institute in Lexington, Va.,  GOP candidate Mitt Romney repeated accusations that Obama is too soft on Iran and too distant from Israel, which views Iran’s nuclear program as a threat to its existence. 
Romney has called on Obama to draw a clearer red line to warn Iran that the United States will not tolerate it gaining nuclear weapons. Critics of this view warn that it could bind the U.S. and force an armed intervention.

The Iran Threat Reduction and Syria Human Rights Act expands the list of those targeted by Iran sanctions, closes loopholes and enhances penalties. 

Those targeted include anyone who works in Iran's petroleum sectors or provides goods, services, infrastructure, or technology to Iran's oil and natural gas sector, those who insure or re-insure investments in Iran's oil sector and those who transport refined petroleum to Iran. It also targets Iranian and Syrian officials involved in human-rights abuses. 

This law also tries to stop Iran from repatriating revenue from oil, to further destabilize its currency and make more sanctions mandatory.

Obama and Romney will answer a mix of domestic and foreign policy questions during their second debate, next Tuesday in Hempstead, N.Y. The third presidential debate, dedicated to foreign policy, is scheduled for Oct. 22 in Boca Raton, Fla.