Obama applauds EU sanctions on Iran

US President Barack Obama has applauded the new European Union sanctions on Iran, noting this demonstrates unity of the international community.

"These sanctions demonstrate once more the unity of the international community in addressing the serious threat presented by Iran's nuclear program," Obama said. Obama said he applauds actions by US' partners in the EU to impose additional sanctions on Iran in response to the regime's continuing failure to fulfill its international obligations regarding its nuclear program.

The US will continue to impose new sanctions to increase the pressure on Iran, he said, adding that on December 31, he signed into law a new set of sanctions targeting Iran's Central Bank and its oil revenues.

"Today, the Treasury Department announced new sanctions on Bank Tejerat for its facilitation of proliferation, and we will continue to increase the pressure unless Iran acts to change course and comply with its international obligations," he said.

Earlier in the day, US designated Iran's third-largest bank, Bank Tejarat, for providing financial services to several Iranian banks and firms already subject to international sanctions for their involvement in Iran's weapons of mass destruction (WMD) proliferation activities.

The latest US move came soon after the EU imposed tough sanctions against Iran. The announcement was made in a joint statement by the French President Nicolas Sarkozy; the German Chancellor Angela Merkel; and the British Prime Minister David Cameron.

"Our message is clear. We have no quarrel with the Iranian people. But the Iranian leadership has failed to restore international confidence in the exclusively peaceful nature of its nuclear programme," they said.

"We will not accept Iran acquiring a nuclear weapon. Iran has so far had no regard for its international obligations and is already exporting and threatening violence around its region," said the European leaders.

The three leaders called on Iran's leadership immediately to suspend its sensitive nuclear activities and abide fully by its international obligations. "The door is open to Iran to engage in serious and meaningful negotiations about its nuclear programme,"they said.

"Until Iran comes to the table, we will be united behind strong measures to undermine the regime's ability to fund its nuclear programme, and to demonstrate the cost of a path that threatens the peace and security of us all," the joint statement said.

The EU decision was immediately welcomed by the US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and the Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, stating that these are another strong step by the international community to dramatically increase the pressure on Iran.

"We welcome today's decision by the EU to ban imports of Iranian crude oil and petroleum products, freeze the assets of the Iranian central bank, and take additional action against Iran's energy, financial, and transport sectors," Clinton and Geithner said.

Taken in combination with the many other sanctions on Iran that continue to be implemented by the US and the international community, this new, concerted pressure will sharpen the choice for Iran's leaders and increase their cost of defiance of basic international obligations, they said.

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