US issues new round of economic sanctions on Iran

The new sanctions, issued by the Treasury Department, also sought to hammer Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), which the U.S. claims is the main state patron for the Iranian-based Hezbollah terrorist organization. 

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The IRCG, specifically its Quods Force branch, also played a major role in training and equipping Shiite insurgents as they battled U.S. and coalition forces during the most violent years of the Iraq war. 

Officials and government agencies in the Iran tagged by Treasury under the new sanctions are blocked from involvement in "any property or interests in property in the United States," according to Thursday's statement. 

In addition "U.S. persons are ... prohibited from engaging in transactions" with the people and organizations identified in the new slate of Iranian sanctions, Treasury officials added. 

"These actions underscore the Administration’s ongoing commitment to hold Iranian government officials and entities responsible for the abuses carried out against their own citizens," State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said in a statement issued Thursday. 

Repressive actions by the Iranian officials and agencies tagged by the State Department "demonstrate the [Tehran's] ongoing campaign to censor its own citizens, curtail their freedoms, and to prevent the free flow of information both in to and out of Iran," according to Nuland. 

"With the measures we are taking today, we draw the world’s attention to the scope of the regime’s insidious actions, which oppress its own people and violate Iran’s own laws and international obligations," she added. 

Thursday's new sanctions come days after the Obama administration announced sanctions against the chief of suicide operations for the Pakistan-linked Haqqani Network, Qari Zakir.

He is the first individual member of the group to be singled out for sanctions since the State Department officially added the Haqqani Network to its list of known terrorist organizations. 

The new slew of economic sanctions are also part of the administration's strategy to pressure Iran to abandon its controversial nuclear enrichment program, according to Treasury officials. 

The White House and Pentagon remain firmly committed to the administration's strategy of political and economic sanctions to force Tehran to abandon its nuclear ambitions.

Iran has repeatedly claimed the program is designed for purely peaceful purposes. The United States, Israel and other Western powers argue the program puts the country on the path to a nuclear weapon. 

Multiple negotiations between Iran and members of the P5+1 group — the the five permanent United Nations Security Council members and Germany — over the nuclear program have yielded little results.