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US imposes new sanctions on Iran

Published: Thursday, Feb. 7, 2013 10:12 a.m. CDT

(MCT) — WASHINGTON — The Obama administration slapped new sanctions on Iran’s state broadcasting agency and Internet-policing agencies Wednesday as economic sanctions enacted last summer also took effect.

The actions are part of an effort to force the Iranian government to curb its nuclear program, which the United States and many other nations believe is designed to develop nuclear weapons capability. Iran maintains it is enriching uranium for peaceful purposes only.

The newest sanctions, announced by the Treasury Department, are aimed at Iranian agencies and companies that stifle dissent and impede the free flow of information. They target the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting; its director, Ezzatollah Zarghami; the Iranian Cyber Police; and the Communications Regulatory Authority.

Another target is Iran Electronics Industries, which makes equipment used for jamming, monitoring and eavesdropping, the Treasury Department said. Under the new sanctions, any property in the United State held by the blacklisted organizations and individuals can be seized, and they are barred from doing business with Americans.

The sanctions that were written into law in August impose new penalties on companies and individuals who work with Iran’s energy, petrochemical, insurance, financial and shipping sectors. The prohibitions will make it more difficult for Iran to bring home money it earns abroad on sales of its oil.

Sanctions by the United States and allies have cut Iran’s lucrative oil exports by half, sharply undermined the value of the currency and caused shortages of key imports, from foodstuffs to pharmaceuticals. They so far have not caused the Islamic regime to give ground on its nuclear program, although international negotiations are scheduled to resume this month.

Iran’s foreign ministry spokesman, Ramin Mehmanparast, said Wednesday that the international sanctions are having a positive effect by forcing Iran to reduce its reliance on oil income, according to the semiofficial Fars News Agency. He said the country would cut nonessential spending as a result.

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