US President Barack Obama has imposed new economic sanctions against Iran's energy sector and two banks in China and Iraq for ‘facilitating oil sales transactions’ for Tehran.
In a statement released by the White House on Tuesday, Obama said the existing sanctions on Iran's oil industry were expanded "by making sanctionable the purchase or acquisition of Iranian petrochemical products.”
He said the new measures would be taken against firms that have dealings with the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC), the Naftiran Intertrade Company (NICO) or the Central Bank of Iran (CBI).
Obama said that the US sanctions will apply to any financial institution that allows Iran to access the international financial system.
The sanctions also cut off China's Bank of Kunlun and Iraq's Elaf Islamic Bank from the US financial system for allegedly facilitating financial transactions for Iranian banks, which are under sanctions.
The new embargoes build on Iranian crude sanctions signed into law in December and approved in March that penalize other countries for buying or selling Iran’s oil. The sanctions took effect on June 28.
The US sanctions are meant to pile up pressure on Iran over its nuclear energy program, which Washington, Tel Aviv and some of their allies claim may include a military aspect.
Iran refutes the allegation and holds that as a signatory to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and a member of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), it is entitled to enrich uranium for peaceful purposes.