EU cites 'serious and deepening concerns' for decision to deepen sanctions on Iran

Sanctions on Iran have become a factor in the U.S. presidential election next month. The Obama campaign says the president has been able to impose unprecedented international sanctions on the country by working through the United Nations, while Republican candidate Mitt Romney has pressed for even deeper sanctions to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.

"As you know, rallying the world to isolate Iran and incrase the pressure on its leadership so that they stop pursuing a nuclear weapon has been a top priority for the president since the day he took office,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said Monday. “Thanks to that leadership, Iran is under more pressure than ever before.”

The sanctions announced Monday also:

• Ban the export to Iran of materials relevant to the Iranian nuclear and ballistic programs or to industries controlled by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, including graphite; raw or semi-finished metals such as aluminum and steel; software for integrating industrial processes; and related technical or financial assistance;

• Ban the importation of natural gas from Iran into the EU, including related finance and insurance;

• Broaden the existing export ban on key equipment for the Iranian oil, gas and petrochemical industries;

• Bar vessels belonging to EU citizens and companies from transporting or storing Iranian oil and petrochemical products; prohibit EU industries from building new oil tankers for Iran or supplying key naval equipment and technology for ship building and maintenance; and ban flagging and classification services for Iranian oil tankers;

• Stop supporting trade with Iran through new short-term export credits, guarantees or insurance. Medium- and long-term commitments were already previously prohibited; and

• Target 34 additional Iranian entities providing substantial financial support to the Iranian government and one person involved in the Iranian nuclear program with an asset freeze and a travel ban. This concerns notably entities active in the oil and gas industry and in the financial sector.