U.S. steps up sanctions as Iran floats nuclear talks

January 1, 2012

By Laura MacInnis and Parisa Hafezi | Reuters

President Barack Obama signed new sanctions against Iran into law on Saturday, shortly after Iran signaled it was ready for fresh talks with the West on its nuclear programme and said it had delayed long-range missile tests in the Gulf.

Tensions between Iran and the West have grown since EU leaders said they wanted to set tougher sanctions against Tehran by the end of next month in a bid to force it to curb a research programme that they suspect is developing nuclear weapons.

In the absence of a fresh mandate from the U.N. Security Council, which has already imposed four rounds of global sanctions, Washington has also stepped up the pressure with sanctions on financial institutions that deal with Iran’s central bank.

The defense funding bill, approved by Congress last week, aims to reduce the oil revenues that make up the bulk of Iran’s export earnings. Obama signed it in Hawaii, where he was spending the Christmas holiday.

To read more, visit:  http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/12/31/us-iran-drill-missile-idUSTRE7BU09420111231

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