President Clinton, hoping to strike a blow at a rogue state, announced tough sanctions Sunday that ban all U.S. investment in and trade with Iran.
The president said the step, which will prohibit all U.S. exports to Iran and halt any trading by American companies in Iranian oil, “makes clear our unrelenting determination to do all that we can to arrest the behavior and ambitions of a nation that ranks at the top of the world’s ‘10 Most Wanted’ list” - both as a sponsor of international terrorism and a potential nuclear threat.
At the same time, Clinton urged Russia to abrogate an agreement to sell nuclear technology to Tehran, calling it “profoundly disturbing.”
In a speech to the World Jewish Congress in New York, Clinton said he will sign an executive order to carry out the Iranian embargo later this week.
“To do nothing more as Iran continues its pursuit of nuclear weapons would be disastrous,” he said. “And to stand pat in the face of overwhelming evidence of Tehran’s support for terrorists would threaten to darken the dawn of peace between Israel and her neighbors.”
The sanctions, designed to go into effect 30 days after the executive order is signed, are nearly as tough as the sweeping trade embargo imposed on Iran during the 1979-81 hostage ordeal.
However, they may have limited impact on Iran because that nation is expected to find trade alternatives in Europe and Asia. Ironically, their effect doubtlessly will be felt in the United States.
U.S. companies made $326 million from export trade to Iran last year, down from the $616 million in 1993 and $750 million in 1992.
Foreign subsidiaries of U.S. oil companies bought and resold overseas more than 20 percent of Iran’s oil exports.
Officials concede that several thousand U.S. jobs may be at stake. Fuel prices also may go up slightly for a short time as companies adjust to the change, officials said.
Although the White House generally downplayed the effect on U.S. companies, Clinton said, “I have determined that if we are to succeed in getting other countries to make sacrifices in order to change Iran’s behavior, we, too, must be willing to sacrifice.”