Iran | Advances in Nuclear Program Lead to Additional Sanctions
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Advances in Nuclear Program Lead to Additional Sanctions
Iran's nuclear program once again prompted international concern in November 2011 when the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) released a report, based on about 1,000 documents and interviews with intelligence officials from ten countries, that "Iran has carried out activities relevant to the development of a nuclear device." Specifically, the report said Iran was developing the technology to trigger a nuclear weapon. President Ahmadinejad denied the allegation, saying the evidence was fabricated by Iran's enemies.
The U.S., Britain, and Canada responded with tough economic sanctions targeted at the country's government and commercial banks. Canada and the U.S. also imposed sanctions aimed at Iran's oil, gas, and petrochemical industries. Britain's sanctions were the harshest, actually severing all ties with Iran's banks, including the government Central Bank. While the U.S. sanctions fell short of Britain's, the Treasury Department issued a statement calling Iran a "primary money laundering concern."
Iran criticized the sanctions and was particularly outraged with England. Parliament voted to downgrade the diplomatic ties with Britain. On Nov. 28, several dozen Iranian protesters rushed into the British embassy compound in Tehran, yelling, "Death to England!" They broke embassy windows, burned the British flag, and vandalized offices. The attack recalled the Nov. 1979 incursion into the U.S. embassy by revolutionary militants who held 52 American diplomats at hostages for 444 days. British Prime Minister David Cameron withdrew several diplomats from Iran following the incursion.
In June 2012, the European Union imposed an embargo on Iranian oil in an effort to persuade Iran to halt uranium enrichment and end its nuclear weapon efforts. In response, Iran threatened to close the Strait of Hormuz, which would seriously impede delivery of oil to areas outside the Persian Gulf and sharply increase prices. At the same time the U.S. said it would impose financial penalties on countries that buy Iranian oil. The EU followed those sanctions with another round in October that targeted the banking, shipping, and other industrial sectors. In its statement outlining the sanctions, the EU said it banned "all transactions between European and Iranian banks unless authorized in advance under strict conditions with exemptions for humanitarian needs." The sanctions have resulted in a weak currency, inflation, and a drop in manufacturing and oil production. The economic woes have caused discord among the populace that has seen rising prices and sharply diminished purchasing power.