US President Barack Obama
Source: Press TV
US President Barack Obama has given the green light for fresh sanctions against foreign banks and other financial institutions by or through which Iran’s oil is purchased.
Obama made the decision on Friday night, hours before a legal deadline, arguing that there is enough oil on world markets to ensure the move will not trigger an oil shock hitting US consumers.
"There is a sufficient supply of petroleum and petroleum products from countries other than Iran to permit a significant reduction in the volume of petroleum and petroleum products purchased from Iran by or through foreign financial institutions," the President said.
The move is aimed to force importers of Iranian crude, namely China, South Korea, India, Japan and the European Union, to "significantly reduce" oil imports from Iran or face being frozen out of the US financial system.
The US and EU have imposed tough financial and oil sanctions against Iran since the beginning of 2012, claiming that the country’s nuclear energy program includes a military component.
Tehran refutes their claims, noting that frequent inspections by International Atomic Energy Agency have failed to prove any diversion in Iran's nuclear energy program toward military purposes.
On March 20, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said in a statement that Washington had exempted 10 EU member states and Japan from the new sanctions on Iran.
The measures against the major OPEC member poses a risk to Obama’s re-election bid in the November presidential race as they could aggravate the rising gas prices in the US.
Obama had to make a decision on the sanctions 90 days before they go into force on June 28 and is to periodically re-assess the restrictions