The United States is targeting affiliates of Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps with new sanctions designed to curtail the activities of individuals and companies involved in Iran's nuclear and missile program.
The U.S. Treasury Department announced Wednesday it is freezing the assets of Revolutionary Guard General Rostam Qasemi and four subsidiaries of a construction company he oversees for the military.
The department says the four subsidiaries of the construction company (Khatam al-Anbiya) are involved in projects that support Iran's efforts to build weapons of mass destruction and also support terrorist activities.
The U.S. said General Qasemi runs the company, which generates income that supports the Revolutionary Guards. The Treasury Department also said the company serves as a front for the Revolutionary Guard and allows it to maintain "vital ties to the outside world".
The sanctions expand existing penalties against the Revolutionary Guard Corps, the country's most powerful military force.
They come a day after U.S. President Barack Obama warned that international steps to impose new sanctions on Iran were moving "fairly quickly."
On Tuesday, Tehran said it began enriching its own uranium to 20 percent purity to power what it says is a medical nuclear reactor. World powers worry that Iran could use the same enrichment process to produce a nuclear weapon. Iran insists it is developing its nuclear program for peaceful purposes only.
Iran has shown reluctance to accept a United Nations-brokered deal to send uranium abroad for processing into reactor fuel. But a top Iranian nuclear official said Wednesday a nuclear fuel deal is still possible.
Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.