US imposes fresh sanctions on Tehran

US imposes fresh sanctions on Tehran

US imposes fresh sanctions on Tehran

An Iranian protester runs inside the British embassy in Tehran. AP photo

The U.S. Senate on Dec. 1 unanimously approved harsh new economic sanctions on Iran, dismissing warnings that they risked fracturing global unity on isolating Tehran over its alleged nuclear weapons program.

Lawmakers voted 100-0 to include the measure, which aims to cut off Iran’s central bank from the global financial system. The measure calls for freezing U.S.-based assets of financial institutions that do business with the central bank, including foreign central banks that do so for the purposes for buying or selling petroleum or related products.

US officials have warned that depriving global markets of Iranian exports could send oil prices sharply higher, handing Tehran a windfall at a time when it has struggled to cope with painful international economic sanctions. U.S.’ sanctions comes as EU ministers also adopted new sanctions against the country, placing travel bans and assets freezes on 180 companies and people directly involved in the country’s atomic drive.

Meanwhile, the Obama administration has proposed selling 600 “bunker buster” bombs and other munitions to the United Arab Emirates, which lies across the Gulf from Iran, to deter what it called regional threats. The deal would boost UAE’s ability “to meet current and future regional threats” and to help deter aggression, the Pentagon’s Defense Security Cooperation Agency said in the note to lawmakers.

Diplomats leave

Apart from sanctions, Iran’s diplomats in London packed their bags and were due to fly home Dec. 1 as a deadline loomed for their expulsion following the storming of the British embassy in Tehran. British Foreign Secretary William Hague told parliament Nov. 30 that he had given Iran’s diplomats 48 hours to close the embassy and leave the country. Several European nations, including France, Germany and Italy, also recalled their ambassadors in a show of solidarity, and the European Union declared it would take “appropriate measures” to hit back at what it saw as an attack on the EU as a whole.

China, the biggest buyer of Iranian crude, also stepped in to warn against “emotionally charged actions” that might aggravate the row between London and Tehran over the storming of Britain’s embassy in the Iranian capital.

Iranians meanwhile staged a fresh anti-British demonstration in Tehran on Dec. 2 in support of the storming of the British compounds, the official IRNA news agency reported. After attending Friday prayers in Tehran University, worshippers flocked to central Enqelab (Revolution) Square, chanting “Death to Britain” and “(We) support the seizure of the second den of spies (the British embassy),” it said. They also condemned what they called Britain’s hostile policies toward the Islamic republic, and finished up their demonstration by setting British and Israeli flags on fire.

Compiled from AP and Reuters stories by the Daily News staff.