Obama sanctions Iranian Central Bank

President Barack Obama has signed an executive order placing new sanctions on Iran, including on its Central Bank, reported the Associated Press.

The White House announced that Iranian government and bank assets held in the United States or in any foreign branches would be frozen, according to Bloomberg.

By mid-afternoon, word of the sanctions had had no immediate affect on the price of oil in the US, with light sweet crude for March delivery trading down at $0.77 at $97.07 per barrel after briefly falling below $97, according to The New York Times (trading continues as of this writing). (The AP reported that analysts had expected the sanctions for some time and had taken them into consideration along with rising inventory.)

In a letter to Congress, Obama said, “I have determined that additional sanctions are warranted, particularly in light of the deceptive practices of the Central Bank of Iran and other Iranian banks to conceal transactions of sanctioned parties,” according to Reuters.

The move enforces an amendment of a defense bill that Obama signed in Dec. 2011, well ahead of the six-month window he had to act on it, according to the AP.

Tensions have been high between Iran, Israel and the US, as Iran pushes ahead with its nuclear program. At Friday prayers last week, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said war would be more damaging to Israel and the US, and earlier in the week Israel ratcheted up its talk of bombing Iran’s nuclear sites.

More on GlobalPost: Iran's Ayatollah Ali Khamenei shoots back at Israel, US (VIDEO)

In an interview with NBC on Sunday, Obama said, “I don't think that Israel has made a decision on what they need to do” concerning Iran.

Reuters said tightening of sanctions may not force Iran’s hand, as “the strengths of Iran's diverse and relatively self-reliant economy, suggest that as long as Tehran can find buyers for a large proportion of its oil, it will be able to limp along.”

More on GlobalPost: Israel: Iran could be year away from building nuclear bomb

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