US Preparing to Slap Iran with New Sanctions

Posted November 19th, 2011 at 1:55 am (UTC-5)
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The United States is getting ready to hit Iran with new, tougher sanctions.

U.S. officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity late Friday, said the sanctions could be unveiled as early as Monday and would target Iran's petrochemical industry. They said the new sanctions would seek to stop foreign companies from investing in ventures like oil refineries.

The officials said foreign companies that violate the ban would be cut off from access to the U.S. market, and that European countries could introduce similar sanctions later next week.

The U.S. move would build on a resolution adopted by the United Nations' nuclear watchdog Friday that cited “deep and increasing concern” over Tehran's nuclear activities. The resolution was adopted about a week after the International Atomic Energy Agency there is “credible” evidence that Iran is trying to build nuclear weapons.

The 35-member board of the IAEA approved the resolution after China and Russia sought and got changes to make the resolution's wording less harsh.

The measure stops short of referring Iran to the U.N. Security Council or setting a deadline for the country to comply with the IAEA's requests for additional information.

Iran has dismissed the IAEA report. The country's IAEA envoy, Ali Ashgar Soltanieh, said the measure will only strengthen Iran's determination to continue its uranium enrichment activities.

He also said Iran would not attend a U.N. atomic forum next week focusing on efforts to create a Middle East region free of nuclear weapons.

The U.S. praised the IAEA for passing the resolution. A White House statement says the agency “spoke with a unified voice” in holding Tehran accountable for its “continued failure to live up to international obligations.”

The U.N. Security Council has passed four sets of sanctions on Iran for refusing to stop nuclear activities that have both civilian and military uses.