Part I: U.S. Sanctions Oil Industry

On July 31, President Obama issued the following statement on new sanctions on Iranian oil and foreign financial institutions that facilitate transactions for Iranian banks.

Today, the United States is announcing two significant steps that strengthen our efforts to pressure and isolate the Iranian government for its continued failure to meet its international obligations.

First, I have approved a new Executive Order that imposes new sanctions against the Iranian energy and petrochemical sectors.  This action is designed to deter Iran from establishing payment mechanisms for the purchase of Iranian oil to circumvent existing sanctions, and utilizes the existing structure of our sanctions law, including exceptions for significant reductions in the purchase of Iranian oil.  Additionally, existing sanctions on Iran’s petrochemical industry are expanded by making sanctionable the purchase or acquisition of Iranian petrochemical products.  Sanctions are also authorized for those who may seek to avoid the impact of these sanctions, including against individuals and entities that provide material support to the National Iranian Oil Company, Naftiran Intertrade Company, or the Central Bank of Iran, or for the purchase or acquisition of U.S. bank notes or precious metals by the Government of Iran. 

Second, we have also taken a significant step to hold responsible institutions that knowingly enable financial transactions for designated Iranian banks.  The Department of the Treasury today imposed sanctions on Bank of Kunlun in China and Elaf Islamic Bank in Iraq under the Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability, and Divestment Act of 2010 (CISADA).  Bank of Kunlun and Elaf Islamic Bank have facilitated transactions worth millions of dollars on behalf of Iranian banks that are subject to sanctions for their links to Iran’s illicit proliferation activities.  By cutting off these financial institutions from the United States, today’s action makes it clear that we will expose any financial institution, no matter where they are located, that allows the increasingly desperate Iranian regime to retain access to the international financial system.

Since taking office, we have presented the Iranian government with a clear choice:  come in line with your international obligations and rejoin the community of nations, or face growing consequences.  With these actions, we are once again reaffirming our commitment to hold the Iranian government accountable for its actions.  The United States remains committed to a diplomatic solution, but the onus is on Iran to abide by its international obligations.  If the Iranian government continues its defiance, there should be no doubt that the United States and our partners will continue to impose increasing consequences.

The White House also released a fact sheet detailing President Obama’s sanctions strategy since taking office. The following are excerpts from the fact sheet.

Building a Comprehensive Sanctions Strategy

Since taking office, President Obama has presented a very clear choice to the Iranian regime: comply with its international nuclear obligations and benefit from the greater economic, political, and security integration that come with being part of the international community, or face growing consequences for non-compliance. Iran has chosen to proceed down the path of international isolation, and has therefore suffered from what President Ahmadinejad called in July 2012, “the most severe and strictest sanctions ever imposed on a country.” 
Targeting the Iranian Regime’s Nuclear Program Through Its Oil Revenues
The Administration has used sanctions to convince major oil companies to withdraw from Iran’s oil fields, leading the Iranian Oil Ministry to acknowledge publicly in 2011 that it is $100 billion short in the investment it needs to develop this sector. 
Even as we intensify our pressure on the Iranian government, we hold open the door to diplomacy. Iran can choose to abide by its international obligations, honor its commitments to the International Atomic Energy Agency, and prove that its intentions are peaceful. The United States remains committed to a diplomatic solution, but the onus is on Iran. If the Iranian government continues it defiance, there should be no doubt that the United States and our partners will continue to hold Iran accountable.
Additionally, the White House released the following documents:

To view the fact sheet on the White House website, click here.

To view the U.S. Department of Treasury’s official press release on imposed sanctions on Kunlun Bank in China and Elaf Bank in Iraq, click here.

To view the Executive Order on the White House website, click here.

To view President Obama’s message to Congress on the Executive Order, click here.