European Union leaders have agreed to impose new sanctions on Iran - joining the United States and United Nations in putting additional pressure on Tehran over its nuclear program.
The EU measures approved Thursday include a ban on new investment, technical assistance and transfers of technologies to Iran's key oil and natural gas sector.
The sanctions are designed to put significant financial pressure on Iran, which holds some of the largest natural gas reserves in the world.
The measures coincide with expanded sanctions by the United States, and follow last week's decision by the U.N. Security Council to impose additional sanctions on Tehran.
Russia's foreign ministry strongly criticized the European and U.S. action, saying the extra sanctions would undermine the Security Council and efforts among its members to act cooperatively on Iran.
The U.S. Wednesday blacklisted a state-controlled Iranian bank, as well as 22 petroleum and petrochemical companies, a designation that puts them off-limits to U.S. businesses.
Officials also designated five front companies and more than 90 vessels that the Obama administration contends are used by Iran's national maritime carrier Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines to evade sanctions.
Western countries suspect Iran is using its nuclear program to build weapons. Iran says the program is for peaceful purposes only.
Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.