Speaking at a media conference in Peru on Saturday, Panetta said Washington and its allies have reached an agreement “to impose probably the most serious sanctions, economic sanctions, that have been imposed on a nation.”
He said Iran should engage with the international community to try to resolve the West's standoff with the country and address their alleged concerns or face additional sanctions.
Panetta said the US and its allies are united in their efforts to stop Tehran’s uranium enrichment activities.
Washington’s sanction threats against Tehran are escalating despite the UN warning against the humanitarian ramifications of the embargoes.
On Friday, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon warned that the West’s embargoes against Iran have significantly targeted the livelihood of the ordinary Iranian population and led to shortage of necessary items, including medicine.
At the beginning of 2012, the United States and the European Union imposed new sanctions on Iran’s oil and financial sectors with the goal of preventing other countries from purchasing Iranian oil and conducting transactions with the Central Bank of Iran.
The sanctions came into force in early summer 2012.
The illegal US-engineered sanctions were imposed based on the unfounded accusation that Iran is pursuing non-civilian objectives in its nuclear energy program.
Iran rejects the allegations, arguing that as a committed signatory to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and a member of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), it has the right to use nuclear technology for peaceful purposes.
In addition, the IAEA has conducted numerous inspections of Iran's nuclear facilities but has never found any evidence showing that Iran's civilian nuclear program has been diverted to nuclear weapons production.