US President Barack Obama [official website] signed legislation [HR 2194] Friday imposing a new round of sanctions on Iran for failure to disband the nation's uranium enrichment program. Under the new legislation, sanctions will be imposed against parties investing in Iran's petroleum development and aiding in exporting the petroleum. Financial institutions that facilitate certain activities in Iran, including the Islamic Revolutionary Guard [GlobalSecurity backgrounder], will also be subject to sanctions. The UN Security Council [official website] voted last month to impose a fourth round of sanctions on Iran [press release; JURIST report] in order to persuade the country to cease their enrichment procedures and resolve international concerns over their nuclear program. Obama indicated that the legislation "builds on" [press release] the UN sanctions and called the sanctions "a powerful tool against Iran's development of nuclear weapons and support of terrorism."
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] has strongly criticized attempts to impose UN sanctions on his country's nuclear program. Last month, the Iranian leader said that actions being taken by the US and its allies in the Security Council are illegal and that his country will not accept any pressure. He also said that any evidence submitted by the US and Britain for new UN sanctions amounted to "lies" similar to the claims made over nuclear weapons in Iraq which served as an impetus to the 2003 war. In December 2006, the UN Security Council imposed sanctions [JURIST report] on Iran for continuing to enrich uranium and broadened them [JURIST report] three months later. The UN had previously ordered Iran to stop expanding [JURIST report] its nuclear program by August 31, 2006. Iran has said it will completely withdraw [JURIST report] from the IAEA if its "nuclear rights" are taken away.