(WASHINGTON) — The noose is getting tighter around the neck of the Iranian government as President Obama Monday ordered Tehran’s assets in the U.S. frozen, which includes Iranian Central Bank transactions.
Washington is hoping that these measures, coupled with previous sanctions and those imposed by European allies, will force Iran to the negotiating table before more severe action is needed to stop its nuclear program from proceeding any further.
Iran continues to insist that its developing nuclear energy for peaceful purposes while virtually the rest of world is certain that its scientists are on the verge of creating an atomic bomb.
There is speculation that Israel could strike Iran militarily this spring to knock out its nuclear facilities, though Obama seemed to downplay such a response in a recent interview with NBC’s Today show.
The move to block Iranian Central Bank transactions was not done lightly since there are worries that cutting off those funds would lead to a spike in oil prices that will hurt the world and U.S. economies.
However, the president asserted, “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, the deficiencies in Iran’s anti-money laundering regime and the weaknesses in its implementation, and the continuing and unacceptable risk posed to the international financial system by Iran’s activities.”
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Ivana Kottasova and Armelle De Oliveira, CNN
Joshua Berlinger and Holly Yan, CNN Newswire