Obama flexible with Iran sanctions

On the day President Barack Obama signed legislation that ratchets up Iran’s sanctions, the White House said he would be flexible in its application.

The Defense Authorization Act, signed Dec. 31, includes an amendment that targets for sanctions third parties that deal with the Central Bank of Iran as well as with Iran’s energy sector.

The legislation allows the president to give other countries and companies time to pull out of Iran, instead of subjecting them immediately to sanctions.

Obama sought the flexibility so the U.S. could leverage other nations into joining in Iran’s isolation, and to time sanctions so they did not redound on Western oil markets.

“This is important because the most effective approach is one that involves multilateral participation and is timed and phased to avoid negative repercussions to international oil markets and instead focus pressure on Iran,” the White House said in a statement. — jta