U.S. President Barack Obama is pressing United Nations nuclear inspectors to disclose classified intelligence information on Iran’s nuclear weapons technology, The New York Times reported on Sunday.
The president’s move is part of a larger American effort to further isolate and increase pressure on the Islamic Republic after accusing it of a plot to assassinate Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the United States, the paper said.
“If the United Nations’ watchdog group agrees to publicize the evidence, including new data from recent months, it would almost certainly revive a debate that has been dormant during the Arab Spring about how aggressively the United States and its allies, including Israel, should move to halt Iran’s suspected weapons program,” the paper said.
Several senior Obama administration officials said in interviews that over the longer term they were considering a ban on financial transactions with Iran’s central bank and an expansion of the ban on the purchase of petroleum products sold by companies controlled by the country’s elite military force, the Islamic Revolutionary Guards, which are believed to oversee the military side of the nuclear program.
However, China and Russia, which are among other major Iranian trading partners, have resisted further oil and financial sanctions against Iran, saying the goal of isolating the Islamic Republic is a poor strategy.
“Even inside the Obama administration, some officials say they fear any crackdown on Iranian oil exports could drive up oil prices when the United States and European economies are weak,” the paper said.