The U.S. and Europe have been seeking additional sanctions against Iran, which they suspect of pursuing a clandestine weapons program. Iran says it needs the program for energy. Russia has been restrained in its position, calling for more diplomacy.
"Today, [Treasury] Secretary Paulson and I are announcing several new steps to increase the costs to Iran of its irresponsible behavior," said Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, adding these sanctions were based on U.S. laws and corresponded to the country's international obligations.
The sanctions also target three Iranian state-owned banks, the Ministry of Defense and Armed Forces Logistics (MODAFL), nine organizations linked to the Revolutionary Guard Corps, and eight people, including three involved with Iran's Aerospace Industries Organization, the U.S. Treasury said.
Rice said all the assets of these organizations and individuals would be frozen immediately, and transactions with them banned.
In late September, the U.S. Senate voted for an amendment to the defense budget for 2008, which recommended that President George W. Bush include the Revolutionary Guard Corps in a list of terrorist organizations.
Thursday's announcement on the new sanctions has qualified the Revolutionary Guard Corps separately, as "a proliferator of weapons of mass destruction" and Qods as "a supporter of terrorism."
Speaking to CBS Sunday, Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden said the Senate's amendment was a huge mistake and warned that recognizing the Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist organization would automatically mean approving a U.S. attack on Iran.
Russia's President Vladimir Putin said the new U.S. sanctions against Iran were counterproductive.
"Why do we need to aggravate the situation, drive it into a deadlock, and threaten with sanctions and military action?" Putin said at a news conference in Lisbon on the eve of an EU-Russia summit.
As an example, the Russian leader cited the issue of North Korea's nuclear program, which has virtually been resolved through diplomacy.
"Until recently, it seemed impossible to resolve peacefully the problem of North Korea," Putin said. "But we have nearly done it using peaceful means."
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Russia has become very adept in playing the diplomatic game, in which victory depends on choosing the right associate or partner. But there are a growing number of claimants to this role in the new horizontal and interdependent world. Aside Syria and Iran, being still important, the new venues for the application of practical diplomacy may well be Ukraine, the East China Sea and Afghanistan.