US President Barack Obama has imposed new sanctions against Iran, including its central bank, in a bid to intensify pressure on Tehran's economy as the showdown over its nuclear ambitions continues.
US President Barack Obama signed an executive order on Monday imposing stricter sanctions on Iran and its central bank, saying Iranian banking practices were threatening the global economy.
"I have determined that additional sanctions are warranted, particularly in light of the deceptive practices of the Central Bank of Iran and other Iranian banks to conceal transactions of sanctioned parties," Obama said in a letter to Congress.
Among accusations leveled at Iranian banks, the White House also said there were deficiencies in Iran's anti-money laundering regime, making it necessary to have the power to freeze all Iranian government assets held or traded in the US. American institutions are now permitted to seize assets they encounter instead of just rejecting transactions, as the banks were previously required to do.
By ordering the new sanctions, Obama was moving to enforce a wide-ranging defense bill he signed into law in December 2011. The bill was designed to restrict Iran's access to foreign finance and commerce, intensifying pressure on its economy, as concerns grow over Tehran's nuclear ambitions.
Israel and the West have accused Iran of developing a nuclear bomb - claims which Tehran denies.
ccp/msh (AP, Reuters, AFP)