The US has imposed a series of sanctions on Iran in the past – the most recent following the UN Security Council’s passage of a fourth sanctions resolution against Iran last June. But the focus of those measures has been Iranian companies, banks, and individuals found to be associated with the country’s nuclear program.
The measures announced Tuesday by Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg target seven foreign entities selling products such as gasoline to Iran.
“All of these companies have engaged in activities related to the supply of refined petroleum products to Iran, including the direct supply of gasoline,” Deputy Secretary Steinberg said.
The new measures suggest a shift toward efforts to weaken the Iranian economy as a means of pressuring Iran to halt its uranium enrichment program. The US and other Western powers accuse Iran of pursuing its nuclear program, including enrichment, with the goal of developing a nuclear weapon. Iran insists its objectives are purely peaceful and aimed at developing civilian nuclear power.
Iran is a major producer of oil, but is weak on petroleum refinery capacity and must import about 40 percent of its gasoline.