U.S. Sanctions on Iran Raise Stakes in Middle East

On December 31, President Obama signed legislation that would impose sanctions on foreign banks handling transactions involving Iranian oil. The sanctions were imposed to pressure Iran into abandoning a suspected nuclear weapons program.

Iran has reportedly begun enriching uranium at an underground complex near the city of Qom. Some experts say Iran could produce enough highly enriched uranium for a nuclear bomb within a year.

The sanctions are making it more difficult for Iran to sell all of its 2.6 million barrels of oil per day. The European Union is considering similar measures.

In response, Iran has threatened to block the Strait of Hormuz, through which much of the world’s oil supplies flow. Iran has also threatened to take action if an American aircraft carrier group returns to the Persian Gulf.

The sanctions are included in Section 1245 of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2012.

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