President Barack Obama signed a new sanctions bill against Iran aimed at “striking at the heart” of that country’s ability to develop nuclear weapons. It’s a move the President says he did not seek, but one the Iranian government brought on themselves.
“Since taking office, I have made it clear that the United States was prepared to begin a new chapter of engagement with the Islamic Republic of Iran. We offered the Iranian government a clear choice. It could fulfill its international obligations and realize greater security, deeper economic and political integration with the world, and a better future for all Iranians. Or, it could continue to flout its responsibilities and face even more pressure and isolation,” he said, “To date, Iran has chosen the path of defiance.”
Because of those choices, Mr. Obama says the United States and the international community will continue to increase their efforts to keep nuclear weapons out of the hands of Tehran. The new sanctions passed by Congress, entitled the ” Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability, and Divestment Act” limit fuel imports and the ability of foreign banks to do business with the Islamic Republic.
“It makes it harder for the Revolutionary Guards and banks that support Iran’s nuclear programs and terrorism to engage in international finance. It says to companies seeking procurement contracts with the United States government—if you want to do business with us, you first have to certify that you’re not doing prohibited business with Iran,” the President said.
Even as he increases the pressure on their government, Mr. Obama sought to reassure the Iranian people that “the United States stands with the Iranian people as they seek to exercise their universal rights. This legislation imposes sanctions on individuals who commit serious human rights abuses. And it exempts from our trade embargo technologies that allow the Iranian people to access information and communicate freely.”
The President said this is not an irreversible course, and the Iranian government can still choose a path of peace.
“The door to diplomacy is still open. Iran can prove that its intentions are peaceful,” the President said, “And it remains our hope that they choose this path, even as we are clear-eyed about the difficult challenges ahead.”
- Yunji de Nies and Sunlen Miller