News / Middle East

US to Slap Isolated Iran With New Sanctions

The United States is getting ready to hit Iran with new, tougher sanctions, with one top official saying Tehran now faces an "unprecedented" degree of isolation.

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.

Separately, U.S. national security adviser Tom Donilon said Saturday that Iran is finding itself more isolated than ever before.  

Donilon spoke to reporters while traveling with U.S. President Barack Obama in Indonesia.  The national security adviser also said that like the U.S., China and Russia want to make sure Iran does not develop nuclear weapons.

On Friday, both China and Russia sought to ease the tone of a resolution by the United Nations' nuclear watchdog that was critical of Tehran.  The final wording cited "deep and increasing concern" over Iran's nuclear activities but stopped short of referring Iran to the U.N. Security Council or setting a deadline for the country to comply with the International Atomic Energy Agency's requests for additional information.

The 35-member IAEA board adopted the measure about a week after announcing in a report that there is "credible" evidence Iran is trying to build nuclear weapons.  

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.

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