US, UK, Canada sanction Iran's banks, petro-chem
US President Barack Obama has stated that as long as Iran continues a dangerous path with its nuclear program, Washington will continue to find ways to isolate and increase pressure on Tehran.
The financial and energy sanctions will target Iranian companies involved in nuclear procurement, the hardline Revolutionary Guard force and Iran's petrochemicals sector.
The sanctions were put in action at 15:00 GMT on Monday with all UK credit and financial institutions to cease all transactions with banks, including the Central Bank of Iran. Britain's Treasury chief George Osborne has said that this is the first time the British government has cut an entire country's banking sector off from the UK's financial sector, using powers created by the Counter-Terrorism Act of 2008.
"We're doing this because of international evidence that Iran's banks are involved in the development of Iran's weaponized military nuclear weapon program. We're doing this to improve the security not just of the whole world, but the national security of the United Kingdom," he said.
Meanwhile, France has called on its allies to impose “unprecedented” sanctions against Tehran, including freezing the assets of Iran’s central bank and halting the purchase of Iranian oil.
The latest set of sanctions by US, Britain and Canada follows the International Atomic Energy Agency's report, published last week, on Iran allegedly pursuing nuclear weapons. The IAEA watchdog has said that they have evidence that Iran does possess the technology to make a nuclear weapon and is already trying to do so.
The US, Canada, South Korea, Australia, Britain and France have all imposed sanctions on Iran in the last few years, but they have not had much affect.
Last year the US imposed sanctions on Iran’s banking and energy sectors. Back then the main target was Iran’s ability to refine crude oil into petroleum products. The UN has imposed sanctions on Iran four times, but since China and Russia are reluctant to support them the result has so far been poor.
Both countries are arguing that the United Kingdom, France and the United States will use sanctions as an “instrument for regime change in Iran.” The report, they say, shows nothing new and therefore there are no reasons to impose fresh sanctions.
In the meantime, Iran remains firm in insisting that its nuclear program is purely civilian and is aimed at scientific research.
“Sanctions are a lose-lose game in which both sides make a loss. If they don’t invest in our oil projects, they will lose an appealing market,” Iran's Minister of Industry, Mines and Commerce Mehdi Ghazanfari said, speaking to the press before the sanctions were officially announced.
Ivan Eland, an expert on political economics from the the Independent Institute told RT sanctions that are pushed on Iran are a blunt tool and will probably hurt the Iranian people.
“When you bomb a country, it unifies the population with the government, even if they don’t like the government. In this case we are not bombing yet, but we are attacking them economically. It actually helps the regime because a lot of the people in Iran, especially the young, don’t really like the regime,” he stated.
The Russian Deputy foreign minister said that recent events resemble an attempt to bring about regime change. And according to Eland, that is what the West really wants, though it is not going to work.
“Sanctions rarely work, even in the case of South Africa, where regime changes occurred and sanctions were used, people associated the two, but in reality most revolutions happen internally, not from external sources,” he explained.
Political analyst Chris Bambery told RT that the US and Britain are very selective in the use of sanctions.
“There are no sanctions put in place by Britain or America for its occupation of Bahrain. There has been nothing done to pull the plug by Britain or America on the Saleh regime in Yemen which is murdering its own people.”