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US hits Iranian oil and information sectors with sanctions

US slams Iran with fresh sanctions over its disputed nuclear program.

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Times are getting tougher in Iran as the sanctions set in. (Behrouz Mehri/AFP/Getty Images)

New US sanctions against Iranian oil and information sectors went into effect on Wednesday, reported The New York Times, citing the US Treasury Department. 

The restrictions, passed by Congress six months ago, are aimed at preventing Tehran from putting oil profits toward its controversial nuclear program, said Reuters. They also blacklist Iran's state-supported media and monitoring agencies on censorship grounds. 

The US and many Western countries fear the Islamic Republic is pursuing nuclear weapons, a charge Iran denies. Talks aimed at resolving the decades-long standoff are set to resume later this month, according to BBC News

Under the US conditions, revenue generated by Iranian crude will be restricted to the purchase of goods to prevent it from going to the country's nuclear industry, said Reuters

This will include purchasers using American waivers, among them China, India and Turkey, according to BBC

The US is also blacklisting Iran's state-supported Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting and its director as well as two cyber-monitoring government agencies. It also hit Iran Electronics Industries, a firm the US Treasury said provided  “goods and services related to jamming, monitoring and eavesdropping," reported NYT

Human rights groups have accused the government of using such organizations to monitor and suppress dissent in the authoritarian theocracy. Such activity increased in the wake of the mass 2009 anti-government protests, leading to the imprisonment and harassment of many.  

Sanctions on Iran have increased over the past year in a renewed effort to discourage suspected nuclear activity. 

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/middle-east/iran/130206/us-sanctions-iranian-oil-and-information-industries-ta