This afternoon, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner will announce new efforts to further isolate the Iranian regime because of its nuclear weapons program. According to news reports, President Barack Obama’s Administration will list Iran and Bank Merkazi, the Iranian central bank, as institutions of “primary money laundering concern” in order to warn countries and global businesses to slow and end their ties with the country and its financial institutions. In addition, the Obama Administration will announce a new round of sanctions targeting organizations with connections to Iran’s nuclear program.
ABC News reported:
Two U.S. officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity given the diplomatic sensitivities involved, say the State Department will sanction Iran’s petrochemical industry, which is normally used to produce products like plastic and styrofoam but is increasingly used to refine petroleum, as international sanctions have constrained the capacity of Iran’s energy sector. The new measure aims to discourage foreign companies from investing in that industry because it could inadvertently aid Iran’s energy sector and undermine previous sanctions.
The State Department is also expected to target both foreign and Iranian entities, many controlled by the Revolutionary Guard Corps, that have begun to help out with critical tasks in Iran’s oil and gas sector, picking up the slack as foreign companies pull out for fear of running afoul of sanctions.
The Wall Street Journal reported:
‘This allows foreign countries to think about how to protect themselves and wean themselves off Iranian oil in a way that doesn’t disrupt the energy markets,’ said a senior U.S. official briefed on the new action.
‘This says: ‘You should be thinking quite seriously about cutting off your ties to the central bank,’ the official said….
U.S. officials said Bank Markazi has been actively involved in money laundering and the support of terrorism. In 2011, these officials said, the central bank fraudulently facilitated transactions worth of ‘billions of dollars’ on behalf of already sanctioned Iranian entities, such as Banks Saderat, Melli and Mellat.
They also said Bank Markazi has aided one of Iran’s largest business conglomerates, Khatem al-Anbyia Construction Holdings, in evading U.S. and U.N. sanctions.
Khatem al-Anbiya is controlled by Iran’s elite military unit, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, which the U.S. believes oversees Tehran’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs.
‘[Bank Markazi] is trying to take advantage of international banks that are smaller or don’t understand the risks posed by dealing with Iran,’ said the senior U.S. official.
‘The IAEA’s report last week provided further credible and detailed evidence about the possible military dimensions of the Iranian nuclear program,’ British Foreign Secretary William Hague said in a statement. ‘Today we have responded resolutely by introducing a set of new sanctions that prohibit all business with Iranian banks.’
On Saturday, national security adviser Tom Donilon lauded the strength of the international coalition working together to end Iran’s nuclear ambitions. Reuters reported:
The White House said on Saturday that Iran is facing an unprecedented degree of isolation, with major world powers united in their opposition to Tehran getting a nuclear weapon.
‘Russia, China and the United States I can tell you share a similar goal, and that is to not seeing the Iranians move toward the development of nuclear weapons,’ U.S. national security adviser Tom Donilon told reporters.
‘The degree of isolation really is unprecedented,’ he said, referring a Friday vote by the United Nations nuclear watchdog IAEA expressing concerns about Iran’s nuclear program.
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