- When the neocons say "sanctions", they actually mean impoverishment, sickness, starvation, and death. As an act of war intentionally directed at civilians (including women, children, old people, and non-combatant men), sanctions are war crimes—and those who implement them are war criminals. Those who propagandize for them are accessories to murder.
- Wall Street Journal -
UNITED NATIONS -- The Obama administration and its Western allies are looking at new ways to constrict Iran's energy, transportation and financial sectors in the wake of last week's revelation that Tehran had secretly developed a second nuclear-fuel facility.
But the White House will still face numerous challenges matching its rhetoric on sanctions with real international action, said American and European officials involved in the process. That makes the U.S. Treasury -- and not the United Nations -- the main focus of the West's financial campaign against Iran for now, said U.S. and European officials.
China and Russia are still seen as only half-hearted partners in any effort to push forward expansive new financial penalties through the U.N. Security Council. And France and Germany are voicing skittishness about targeting Iran's gasoline imports, a strategy that is seen by the U.S. and Israel as inflicting particular pain on Tehran's leadership.
European officials stressed Monday that they are likely to seriously consider new sanctions on Tehran only at year-end, citing a December deadline -- replacing President Barack Obama's September deadline -- that has now been set to see if diplomacy with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad works.
The Treasury has pursued dozens of unilateral sanctions against Iranian banks, government officials and defense companies in recent years in an attempt to pressure Tehran. The U.S. has widened its campaign in recent months by targeting Iranian shipping, insurance and trading firms that play a broader role in Iran's economy.
U.S. officials said they have improved their ability to target key Iranian industries, because of intelligence that has been gathered on the Iranian economy in recent years. Even as Mr. Obama has promoted engagement with Tehran, Treasury officials have continued traveling through the Middle East and Asia to warn foreign governments about dealings with Tehran.
The Treasury and its point man on Iran sanctions, Undersecretary Stuart Levey, have sought to use U.S. sanctions to pressure European and Asian firms to curb their own dealings with Iran. Washington could potentially ban foreign firms from conducting business inside the U.S. if they are in violation of Treasury restrictions on commerce with Iran.
Congress is considering legislation that would target any foreign firms aiding Iran's oil and gas sector. U.S. lawmakers said the bill could be passed into law by year-end, though the White House would have flexibility over how to implement it.
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