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White House Imposes Sanctions on Iran

ALISON STEWART, host:

New sanctions against Iran. The United States is imposing the harshest new trade restrictions against the Iranian regime since the 1979 hostage crisis. Why? Well, according to State Secretary Condoleezza Rice, Iran supports terrorism and it's pursuing nuclear technologies.

ROBERT SMITH, host:

The new penalties target the Iranian military and state-owned banking systems and marked the first time the U.S. has imposed sanctions against another country's armed forces. Overseas banks and firms that do business with Iran are also likely to be affected.

STEWART: Secretary Rice and Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson made the announcement together yesterday. She had this to say about the penalties.

Secretary CONDOLEEZZA RICE (U.S. Secretary of State): They will provide a powerful deterrent to every international bank and company that thinks of doing business with the Iranian government.

SMITH: Secretary Rice also laid out the conditions for (unintelligible).

Sec. RICE: If the Iranian government fulfills its international obligation to suspend its uranium enrichment and reprocessing activities, I will join my British, French, Russian, Chinese and German colleagues, and I will meet with my Iranian counterpart anytime, anywhere.

STEWART: Iran responded with defiance. A foreign ministry spokesman called the sanctions, quote, "contrary to international law without value and, as in the past, doomed to failure," end quote.

SMITH: Meanwhile, back in the United States, some Democratic senators, including Robert Byrd of West Virginia and Chris Dodd of Connecticut, are expressing concern that the sanctions are precursor to war with Iran.

STEWART: That is today's BPP big story. We're going to get more regional context on the story in a few moments when we take a look at the Week in Iraq. But first, here's Rachel Martin with the news. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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