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US imposes sweeping new sanctions on Iran’s financial sector

US imposes sweeping new sanctions on Iran’s financial sector

The US unilaterally imposed sweeping sanctions on Iran’s financial sector in a move that critics say could have unintended consequences, including a detrimental impact on the ability of the Iranian people to access humanitarian resources.



a sign on the side of a building: The US Treasury Department building is seen in Washington, DC, on July 22, 2019. (Photo by Alastair Pike / AFP)    (Photo credit should read ALASTAIR PIKE/AFP/Getty Images)


© Alastair Pike/AFP/Getty Images
The US Treasury Department building is seen in Washington, DC, on July 22, 2019. (Photo by Alastair Pike / AFP) (Photo credit should read ALASTAIR PIKE/AFP/Getty Images)

Thursday’s tranche of sanctions — coming less than a month before the US presidential election — are the latest in the Trump administration’s “maximum pressure” campaign that they say is aimed at causing Tehran to change its behavior. That campaign — under which the administration walked away from the Iran nuclear deal — has left the US largely isolated from key European allies.

In a press release, the Treasury Department said it sanctioned 16 banks “for operating in Iran’s financial sector,” one bank “for being owned or controlled by a sanctioned Iranian bank,” and another bank affiliated with the Iranian military.

Under the new sanctions, “all property and interests in property of designated targets that are in the United States or in the possession or control of U.S. persons must be blocked and reported to” the Office of Foreign Assets Control.

“In addition, financial institutions and other persons that engage in certain transactions or activities with the sanctioned entities after a 45-day wind-down period may expose themselves to secondary sanctions or be subject to an enforcement action,” the Treasury Department said.

“Today’s action to identify the financial sector and sanction eighteen major Iranian banks reflects our commitment to stop illicit access to U.S. dollars,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement. “Our sanctions programs will continue until Iran stops its support of terrorist activities and ends its nuclear programs.

Secretary of State

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U.S. imposes new Iran sanctions that may spook European banks

U.S. imposes new Iran sanctions that may spook European banks

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States on Thursday slapped fresh sanctions on Iran’s financial sector, targeting 18 banks in an effort to further choke off Iranian revenues as Washington ramps up pressure on Tehran weeks ahead of the U.S. election.

FILE PHOTO: A staff member removes the Iranian flag from the stage after a group picture with foreign ministers and representatives of the U.S., Iran, China, Russia, Britain, Germany, France and the European Union during the Iran nuclear talks at the Vienna International Center in Vienna, Austria July 14, 2015. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

The move freezes any U.S. assets of those blacklisted and generally bars Americans from dealing with them, while extending secondary sanctions to those who do business with them. This means foreign banks risk losing access to the U.S. market and financial system.

The Treasury Department said in a statement the prohibitions did not apply to transactions to sell agricultural commodities, food, medicine or medical devices to Iran, saying it understood the Iranian people’s need for humanitarian goods.

However, analysts said the secondary sanctions may further deter European and other foreign banks from working with Iran, even for permitted humanitarian transactions.

“It’s like a punch in the face to the Europeans, who have gone out of their way to indicate to the Americans that they view it as being extremely threatening to humanitarian assistance or humanitarian trade going to Iran,” said Elizabeth Rosenberg of the Center for a New American Security think tank.

“They also want … to make it very difficult for any future president to be able to unwind these measures and engage in nuclear diplomacy,” Rosenberg added, alluding to the possibility that Democratic former Vice President Joe Biden could defeat Republican President Donald Trump in the Nov. 3 U.S. election.

Tensions

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