U.S. imposes new sanctions on Iran

by Tracie Potts
NBC News

Washington upped the pressure on Iran Thursday calling on it to drop its nuclear program and stop supporting terrorists.

The U.S. announced sanctions against more than 20 individuals and companies including major banks and key parts of Iran's military.
The State Department officially named two arms of Iran's military, the IRGC and its "Qods Force," both sponsors of weapons of mass destruction and terror.

United State Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson said, "The IRGC is so deeply entrenched in Iran's economy and commercial enterprises it is increasingly likely that if you're doing business in Iran, you're doing biz with the IRGC."

The Treasury Department will freeze U.S. assets of three Iranian banks and others accused of financing nuclear weapons and terror in Iraq and throughout the Middle East.

Lawmakers applauded:

Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman said, "Say to Iran 'if you're gonna act like an outlaw country, we're gonna treat you like an outlaw country."

Experts doubt the sanctions will lead to military action and note cutting the purse strings may have little effect.

"As long as their oil production they keep making money to fund terrorist activities abroad," said Jon Wolfstahl with the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

The United Nations had already imposed sanctions.

Britain and Israel quickly backed the U.S., but Russia, with close ties to Iran and veto-power at the U.N. accused the administration of backing Tehran into a corner.

The U.S. insists it's committed to diplomacy.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said, "I will meet with my Iranian counterpart anytime, anywhere. We will be open to the discussion of any issue."

No reaction yet from Iran which continues to say its nuclear program is to create energy not weapons.