US sanctions on Iran's central bank. Tehran has called this an act of war
DEBKAfile Special Report January 1, 2012, 1:01 AM (GMT+02:00)Tags: Barack Obama sanctions Iran nuclear Strait of Hormuz
Obama signs toughest sanctions yet against Iran
On the last day of 2011, US President Barack Obama Saturday signed into law measures penalizing foreign financial institutions doing business with Iran's central bank, Bank Markazi - the toughest sanctions imposed yet over Iran's development of a nuclear weapon. In recent weeks Tehran has repeatedly warned that it would deem the signing of this measure an act of war and respond with drastic steps including the closure of the Strait of Hormuz.
The bill targeting anyone dealing with Iran's central bank seeks to force other countries to choose between buying oil from Iran or being shut out of transactions with US financial institutions and banks. The new sanctions will begin taking effect in 60 days – the toughest not for at least six months, giving Tehran some space to cooperate with international demands to call off its nuclear weapon program. The president will have some flexibility in applying the measure.
DEBKAfile's Iranian sources report signs that rather than using this leeway to back down, Tehran appears bent on heading for a collision with the United States and its opponents in the Persian Gulf and Middle East.
Just this Saturday, Dec. 31, Gen. Masoud Jazayeri, one of the Revolutionary Guards heads, wrote on the Guards' site: "Discourse about closing the Strait of Hormuz belongs to five years ago. Today's debate in the Islamic Republic of Iran contains new layers and the time has not come to disclose them."