U.S. announces unilateral Iran sanctions

The Obama administration Wednesday announced unilateral sanctions against a number of Iranian organizations and individuals as it took its first steps to build on the international sanctions adopted last week by the United Nations Security Council.

The penalties target several dozen individuals and organizations officials said were tied to the Iran’s nuclear and missile programs.

A number of individual countries and blocs are expected to soon impose similar penalties in an effort to punish Iran for continuing to pursue nuclear activities. The European Union, for example, is expected to announce a palette of sanctions Thursday.

The United States and many other countries allege Iran’s nuclear program is aimed at acquiring nuclear weapons know-how. Iran insists that its purposes are only peaceful.

The sanctions blacklist means that any foreign companies that do business with these firms and individuals will be subject to U.S. penalties. Officials hope that in this way they can isolate Iran from the international financial sector and persuade its leaders to negotiate an end to the nuclear program.

But previous U.S. sanctions, and three prior rounds of U.N. sanctions, have left Iran more isolated, but defiant.

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