U.S., Britain, Canada cut Iran off from financial system as new economic sanctions

Austria Nuclear Agency IAEA

U.S. ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency, IAEA, Glyn Davies upon his arrival at the International Center in Vienna, Austria, Monday,

US Iran Sanctions

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton walks out with Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner to speak about new sanctions the U.S. is taking to increase

U.S., Britain, and Canada imposed significant steps to cut Iran off from the international financial system, announcing coordinated sanctions aimed at its economics. The measures, a response to a recent United Nations report warning about Iran’s nuclear activities, tighten the vise on Iran but still fall short of a blanket cutoff. The combined actions were a show of resolve in the face of a report earlier this month by the U.N. nuclear agency that voiced serious concerns that Iran, despite its denials, is seeking to acquire nuclear weapons U.S. U.S. sanctions target Iran's oil and petrochemicals industry and Iranian companies involved in nuclear procurement or enrichment activity. The U.S. also declared Iran's banking system a center for money laundering - designed as a stern warning to financial institutions around the world to think twice before doing business with Tehran. President Obama said Iran had a choice: come clean on its nuclear program and reap the benefits of closer economic cooperation with the world, or face even more pressure. The new restrictions essentially amount to a piecemeal addition to dozens of American measures already in place to isolate Iran's economy, partly reflecting the need for a quick response to a U.N. nuclear agency report suggesting Iranian work toward the development of atomic weapons. Release of the report two weeks ago sparked frenzied international diplomacy over how to halt the Iranian threat, including speculation in the U.S., Europe and Israel on the merits of a military intervention. Britain Britain cut all financial ties Monday with Iran over concerns about Iran's nuclear program, the first time it has ever cut an entire country's banking sector off from British finance, the British Treasury announced. In a coordinated action, Britain ordered all British financial institutions to stop doing business with their Iranian counterparts, including the Iranian central bank. A source familiar with the sanctions said the steps would not directly target trade in Iranian oil. The British sanctions underline "the severity of the government's concerns about Iran's activities," the statement issued by Britain's chancellor of the exchequer said. "Iran's activities that facilitate the development or production of a nuclear weapon pose a significant risk to the national interests of the UK and countries across the region," it said. "Iranian banks play a crucial role in providing financial services to individuals and entities within Iran's nuclear and ballistic missile programs, as companies carrying out proliferation activities require banking services." Canada Canada said it would ban the export of all goods used in Iran's petrochemical, oil and gas industry and "block virtually all transactions with Iran," including with its central bank, with an exception for Iranian-Canadians to send money home. “Iran’s current leaders blatantly ignore their international obligations. They obfuscate Iran’s nuclear activities and they block any international attempt to verify the country’s claims,” Canada’s Foreign Minister John Baird said in a statement. “They do so while continuing to violate the human rights of their own citizens, while undermining regional security.” Canada’s “expanded sanctions” will prevent all financial transactions with Iran and add individuals and companies the list of prohibited entities.