Sanctions on Iran among our toughest

CANBERRA has announced sweeping new sanctions against Iran — among the most severe ever — to thwart Tehran’s nuclear ambitions.

The tough measures unveiled yesterday were directed against Iran’s transport and energy sector and would reinforce existing UN Security Council resolutions in addition to autonomous sanctions, Foreign Minister Stephen Smith said yesterday.

For the first time, Australia would introduce measures to restrict local business dealings in Iran’s oil and gas sectors, which had been used to support the country’s covert nuclear program, Mr Smith said.

On Tuesday, the European Union adopted new sanctions against Iranian banks and insurance industries — restrictions denounced by Russia as “unacceptable”.

Mr Smith said the sanctions were similar to those of the EU and would affect investment and technology opportunities in Iran’s oil and gas sector.

“This is consistent with UNSC Resolution 1929, which noted the link between the revenue generated by Iran’s oil and gas sector and funding for Iran’s proliferation activities, as well as the risk that goods used in these sectors can be used in Iran’s prohibited nuclear program,” he said.

“Measures to restrict Australian business dealings will apply to entities in Iran’s transportation and financial services sector, as well as entities linked to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.”

They affect 98 Iranian companies or institutions identified as having links to the country’s nuclear program and 12 individuals.

And they follow previous financial and travel sanctions announced by the federal government on June 15.

Those measures named Iran’s Bank Mellat, the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Line and General Rostam Qasemi, a senior Revolutionary Guards official.

Four sets of UN sanctions are being enforced against Iran over its refusal to comply with Security Council demands for it to suspend its uranium enrichment program. “These efforts demonstrate Australia’s commitment to strengthening global counter-proliferation regimes,” Mr Smith said.

Australian exports to Iran were valued at more than $595 million last year, mostly wheat, coking coal and vehicles.

They are not expected to be affected by the latest sanctions.

But the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade wants local companies to be much more vigilant about their dealings with Tehran.

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