DOD Photo by U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Sun L. Vega
— by David Streeter
The United States Treasury issued new sanctions against Iran because of its pursuit of nuclear weapons. The Treasury said in its announcement:
The United States is taking a number of actions today that tighten sanctions on Iran’s access to its oil revenues and further expose the Iranian government’s continued abuse of human rights. Key provisions of the Iran Threat Reduction and Syria Human Rights Act of 2012 (TRA) that go into effect today, expand the scope of sanctionable transactions with the Central Bank of Iran and designated Iranian financial institutions by restricting Iran’s ability to use oil revenue held in foreign financial institutions as well as preventing repatriation of those funds to Iran.
After the jump: Obama Administration Presents IDF’s Gantz with Legion of Merit Award
The U.S. Department of the Treasury, in consultation with the U.S. Department of State, also designated one individual and four entities for their involvement in the Iranian government’s censorship activities. These censorship activities restrict the free flow of information in Iran and punish Iranian citizens who are attempting to exercise freedom of assembly and expression.
‘Our policy is clear — so long as Iran continues to fail to address the concerns of the international community about its nuclear program, the U.S. will impose tighter sanctions and intensify the economic pressure against the Iranian regime,’ said Treasury Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence David S. Cohen. ‘We will also target those in Iran who are responsible for human right abuses, especially those who deny the Iranian people their basic freedoms of expression, assembly and speech.’
Today marks 180 days since the President signed the TRA. Section 504 of the TRA amends existing sanctions in the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012 (NDAA) that target the Central Bank of Iran, designated Iranian financial institutions and Iran’s energy sector. At the 180-day mark, section 504 narrows the exception for countries that have significantly reduced their purchases of Iranian crude oil so that the exception now only applies to financial transactions that facilitate bilateral trade between the country granted the exception and Iran. For the exception to apply to a financial transaction, funds owed to Iran as a result of such bilateral trade will now have to be credited to an account located in the country granted the exception and may not be repatriated to Iran.
This provision will significantly increase economic pressure on Iran by restricting Iran’s repatriation of oil revenue. In addition to effectively ‘locking up’ Iranian oil revenue overseas, this provision sharply restricts Iran’s use of this revenue for bilateral trade and severely limits Iran’s ability to move funds across jurisdictions.
Obama Administration Presents Gantz with Legion of Merit Award
The Obama Administration presented the Israeli Defense Forces’ Chief of General Staff Benny Gantz with the Legion of Merit award for his military service. JTA reported:
Gantz accepted the award on Tuesday during his five-day visit to the United States at the invitation of his U.S. counterpart, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey. On behalf of President Obama, Dempsey presented Gantz with the award.
An attached letter signed by Dempsey and the U.S. secretary of defense, Leon Panetta, said Gantz was recognized for his outstanding and noteworthy command, and for his military service.
Gantz accepted the award on behalf of Israeli soldiers and commanders, and said it represented the strong relationship between the U.S. and Israeli militaries, according to the Israel Defense Forces.