Clinton says U.S. moving on Iran sanctions
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton insists the Obama administration is moving swiftly to impose tough new sanctions on Iran amid concerns in Congress that the White House won't be aggressive enough in cracking down on financial institutions that do business with Tehran's Central Bank, AP reported.
"What we are intending to do is to ratchet up these sanctions as hard and fast as we can, follow what's going on inside Iran, which seems to be a lot of economic pressures that we think does have an impact on decision-making," Clinton told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Tuesday.
The first round of penalties under the far-reaching defense bill that President Obama signed into law on Dec. 31 goes into effect today, and lawmakers expected an announcement from the administration on the steps it plans to take to thwart Iran's disputed nuclear program.
The United States, the European Union and others have slapped a rapid series of sanctions on Tehran; Congress added to the penalties late last year.
The law says that 60 days after enactment, the president must impose sanctions on any privately owned foreign financial institutions that knowingly conduct or facilitate any significant financial transaction with the Central Bank of Iran for any purpose other than the purchase of petroleum or petroleum products from Iran.
In a fact sheet issued this week, the Treasury Department said the regulations "contain various time-based triggers for the imposition of sanctions, beginning Feb. 29, subject to certain exceptions authorized by the statute."
Clinton said the administration and Congress were on the same page regarding Iran and sanctions.
"We are diligently reaching out around the world to get agreements from countries for whom it's quite difficult to comply with our sanctions. But they are doing the best they can. ... We are focused on the toughest form of diplomacy and economic pressure to try to convince Iran to change course, and we have kept every option on the table," she said.
Edited by: S. Isayev