Russia, Iran Denounce New Sanctions

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JERUSALEM, Israel -- The Iranian and Russian foreign ministries called the latest set of sanctions against Iran's nuclear arms program "futile" and "unacceptable."

Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich claimed the sanctions "obstruct" dialogue with Iran.

"We again underline that the Russian Federation considers such extraterritorial measures unacceptable and contradictory to international law," Lukashevich said in a statement. "Such a practice seriously obstructs advancement toward a constructive dialogue with Iran."

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramim Mehman-Parast predicted the sanctions will have little effect.

"These sanctions are futile, repetitious efforts that will not affect Iran's economy," Mehman-Parast said, adding that "such illogical, intimidating moves…will just make us more united," he said.

Petrochemical and Financial Industries

The new sanctions, announced Monday by the United States, Great Britain, and Canada, target Iran's petrochemical industry, banks and financial institutions.

"As long as Iran continues down this dangerous path, the United States will continue to find ways, both in concert with our partners and through our own actions, to isolate and increase pressure on the Iranian regime," President Obama said.

The White House issued an executive order to Congress saying the latest round of sanctions "target the supply of goods, services, technology or support" for Iran's petrochemical industry.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the coordinated sanctions "represent a signficant ratcheting up of pressure on Iran, its sources of income and its illegal activities."

U.S. Treasury secretary Timothy Geithner also issued a statement Monday accusing Iran's central bank of being a "primary money laundering concern."

Obama called "the entire Iranian banking sector, including the Central Bank of Iran, a threat to governments or financial institutions that do business with Iranian banks."

Great Britain, France, Canada

The E.U., meanwhile, is preparing to freeze assets and impose travel bans against nearly 200 additional individuals and companies. And French President Nicolas Sarkozy called on heads of state and institutions worldwide to impose new sanctions of "unprecedented magnitude," freeze overseas assets of Iran's central bank and suspend purchases of Iranian oil.

In a first-ever move, Britain announced Monday it had severed all its financial ties with Iran.

"The IAEA's report last week provided further credible and detailed evidence about the possible military dimensions of the Iranian nuclear program," a statement issued by British Foreign Secretary William Hague read. "Today we have responded resolutely by introducing a set of new sanctions that prohibit all business with Iranian banks."

Canada banned the export to Iran of all products that could be used in oil, gas and petrochemical industries.

Germany Sells Jetliner to Iranian Airlines 

Meanwhile, flaunting U.S. sanctions against Iran's Mahan Air -- imposed because of the airline's ties with the Iranian Revolutionary Guards -- Germany sold the Airbus "Theodor Heuss," used by former chancellors Helmut Kohl and Gerhard Schroder and today by Chancellor Angela Merkel, to Iran's Mahan Air, Spiegel Online reported on Sunday.

David Cohen of the U.S. Treasury Department said the airlines "close coordination" with the Revolutionary Guards "secretly ferrying operatives, weapons and funds on its flights," is evidence of the  "IRGC's extensive infiltration of Iran's commercial sector to facilitate its support for terrorism," The Jerusalem Post reported.

In an email to the Post Monday, Vienna-based expert on Austrian-Iranian relations Dr. Diana Gregor wrote, "Germany continues to be one of Iran's largest trading partners."

"It seems like Germany is trying to operate along the thin line between what it is obliged to do by the U.N. or the E.U. and making sure that lucrative deals are not slipping through German hands out of a fear that non-German companies or non-German industry representatives will replace them.

"To me, the Theodor Heuss deal is embarrassing as it shows how Germany is willing to bypass the sanctions in order to further a specific deal. I find it bizarre that right after the revelations of the latest IAEA [International Atomic Energy Agency] report and the international calls for new and stronger sanctions, including those voices from Chancellor Merkal and her spokesman, Steffen Seibert, such a deal would be made possible," Gregor told the Post.

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