US targets Iran's central bank as world takes aim at Iran's nuclear program
Secretary Clinton calls new US sanctions a 'significant ratcheting up of pressure on Iran.' Britain, France, and Canada also announce steps in wake of UN report citing 'deep concern' over Iran's nuclear program.
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US officials said the decision to name Iran’s central bank for money laundering, while stopping short of sanctioning the bank directly, was part of an effort to allow foreign governments and companies still doing business with Iran to prepare now for more draconian measures expected in coming weeks.Skip to next paragraph
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Officals say the money laundering designation was justified by the central bank’s involvement in transactions in support of terrorism, and for its continuing work on behalf of other Iranian banks that have been sanctioned by the US and others for financing aspects of Iran’s nuclear program.
Some members of Congress expressed support for the administration’s actions, while characterizing them as only a first step toward sanctioning Iran’s central bank.
“The sanctions announced today reflect a deepening consensus and resolve – among Republicans and Democrats in Washington, and among the US and its allies around the world – that it is time to target the Central Bank of Iran,” Sen. Joe Lieberman (I) of Connecticut said in a statement following the administration’s announcement.
Calling Monday’s action “an important step toward this goal,” Senator Lieberman said it should be “only the first step,” and he added that “much more needs to be done, and quickly.”
Lieberman noted the seriousness of sanctioning Iran’s central bank, but he suggested it might be one of the last steps for avoiding military action against Iran’s nuclear facilities.
“Targeting the Central Bank of Iran is one of the last arrows in the sanctions quiver before military action must be considered,” Lieberman said. “Today's announcement indicates that the arrow [targeting the central bank] should soon be loosed.”
The administration concurs that Monday’s actions may be a first step down the road to formally sanctioning Iran’s central bank, but officials insist that much remains for the US and its partners to undertake in the way of pressuring Iran before military action is considered.
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