U.S. President Barack Obama signed an order giving the Treasury Department more power to go after individuals and groups who try to evade America's sanctions against Iran and Syria.
Treasury said on Tuesday the order gives it "a new authority to tighten further the U.S. sanctions on Iran and Syria."
"Treasury now has the capability to publicly identify foreign individuals and entities that have engaged in these evasive and deceptive activities, and generally bar access to the U.S. financial and commercial systems," the department said in a statement.
Under the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act, U.S. President Barack Obama has the ability to impose financial sanctions on foreign banks that carry out financial transactions with Iran's central bank "for the purchase of petroleum or petroleum products from Iran" if several conditions are met.
In late March, the U.S. spared Japan and 10 European Union nations from U.S. financial sanctions because they have significantly reduced purchases of Iranian crude oil.
The decision was a victory for the 11 countries, whose banks need not fear being possibly cut off from the U.S. financial system under new U.S. sanctions designed to pressure Iran over its nuclear program.
In April, Obama signed an executive order leveling sanctions against entities providing information gathering technologies to the Syrian and Iranian regimes. The technology could theoretically be used to spy on citizens.
"These technologies should be in place to empower citizens, not to repress them," Obama said. "And it's one more step that we can take toward the day that we know will come, the end of the Assad regime that has brutalized the Syrian people, and allow the Syrian people to chart their own destiny."
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