Obama says world oil supply adequate to toughen Iran sanctions
President Barack Obama is moving ahead with tough new sanctions aimed at squeezing Iran's oil exports, having determined there is enough crude on world markets to take the step without harming U.S. allies. Obama's move allows the United States to go forward with sanctions on foreign banks that continue to purchase oil from Iran. The sanctions aim to further isolate Iran's central bank, which processes nearly all of the Islamic Republic's oil purchases, from the global economy. U.S. officials hope ratcheting up economic pressure will both push Iran to abandon its disputed nuclear program and convince Israel to give sanctions time to take hold before pursuing a military strike on Iran's nuclear facilities. The United States and its allies believe that Iran is pursuing a nuclear bomb; Iran denies that. Under a sweeping defense bill Obama signed at the end of December, he had until today to determine if there was enough oil supply on the world market to allow countries to cut their oil purchases from Iran. The president says he based his determination on global economic conditions, the level of spare oil capacity and increased production by some countries, among other factors. He pledges to continue monitoring the global market closely to ensure it can handle a reduction of oil purchases from Iran.
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