While Iran continues to flout international sanctions and to march down the path to becoming a nuclear power, the U.S. Treasury Department once again tried its hand this week at squeezing the regime of the financial resources necessary to developing nuclear weapons.
On Wednesday, the Treasury announced that it would expand existing sanctions against Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) by designating an individual and four companies affiliated with the IRGC pursuant to Executive Order 13382, which freezes the assets of designated proliferators of weapons of mass destruction and their supporters.
The designation focused on Khatam al-Anbiya Construction Headquarters, a front for the IRGC operating under the guise of an engineering firm. Operating openly, the profits from Khatan al-Anbiya are available and have been used to support the illicit activities of the IRG, including WMD proliferation and support for terrorism.
The actions of the Treasury Department came just moments before Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad announced that Iran had produced its first batch of enriched uranium. Although the announcement by Iran was accompanied by continued assurances that the country has no intention of building nuclear weapons, Ahmadinejad asserted:
"We have the capability to enrich uranium more than 20 percent or 80 percent but we don't enrich (to this level) because we don't need it…When we say we do not manufacture the bomb, we mean it, and we do not believe in manufacturing a bomb…If we wanted to manufacture a bomb, we would announce it."
Still experts believe that Iran is continuing to pursue nuclear weapons. One avenue towards preventing this potential inevitability is to continue pressuring the regime with financial sanctions, and this week's Treasury announcement is just the latest in a string of actions aimed at countering Iranian nuclear proliferation.
As the Treasury in implementing the most recent round of sanctions:
"As the IRGC consolidates control over broad swaths of the Iranian economy, displacing ordinary Iranian businessmen in favor of a select group of insiders, it is hiding behind companies like Khatam al-Anbuya and its affiliates to maintain vital ties to the outside world…Today's actions exposing Khatan al-Anbiya subsidiaries will help firms worldwide avoid business that ultimately benefits the IRGC and its dangerous activities."