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US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner has urged the international community to be vigilant in their dealings with Iranian banks, citing "money laundering and terror financing risks."
The US is concerned about "illicit finance emanating from Iran" said Mr. Geithner, speaking to the International Monetary Fund's International Monetary and Financial Committee in Istanbul ahead of the annual meetings of the IMF and World Bank.
His statement comes after Iran agreed at international talks in Geneva last week to open a recently revealed second uranium enrichment facility to international inspectors. Iran also agreed to two more meetings with the US and other world powers in October.
Geithner also called for countries to implement a United Nations Security Council resolution approved last year, imposing sanctions against Iran, by exercising "enhanced vigilance" over their links with Iranian banks.
He said states should monitor links between their financial institutions and "Iranian financial institutions -- including branches and subsidiaries abroad -- and particularly with respect to Bank Saderat and Bank Melli."
In Congress, Sen. Christopher Dodd increased pressure for tougher measures on Iran, saying he planned to introduce legislation for new sanctions if Iran does not respond "to our final diplomatic effort in the coming weeks," reports Agence France-Presse.
Dodd's proposed bill aims to impose new sanctions on companies exporting refined petroleum products to Tehran, and impose a broad ban on direct imports out of Iran to the United States excepting for food and medicines.
It would also expand existing legislation to cover financial institutions and businesses and extend sanctions to oil and gas pipelines, as well as boost moves to freeze the assets of Iranians accused of weapons proliferation.
The draft legislation would also seek to tighten export controls to halt the illegal export of sensitive technology.
In a separate meeting Saturday of G-7 countries, Geithner said, he and his colleagues also discussed "increasing pressure" on Iran if it does not cooperate with the international community on its nuclear program, reported Bloomberg.
"I did speak to a number of my colleagues today about how important it is for us to continue to work together to develop options to increase pressure if that becomes necessary," Geithner said at a press conference….
U.S. officials declined to comment on specific options under consideration. One official said the U.S. strategy would be broader than previous efforts, which involved targeted financial measures against "illicit actors" in Iran and reaching out to the private sector.
The US and other Western nations went into last week's meeting with Iran threatening new sanctions if Iran did not agree to freeze its nuclear program. While world powers are still waiting to see if Iran will make good on its promises, that threat may have pushed Iran to engage with negotiators in a shift from the past, reported The Christian Science Monitor. But the agendas of the two sides still remain far apart.
[T]he galvanizing effect of the revelation of a new enrichment facility on the US, Britain, and France to press Iran harder to resolve the nuclear impasse or face more sanctions, seems to have caught the attention of Tehran. ...
Asked if he felt the Iranians understood that this was a "different moment," that it might be "time to talk more," European foreign policy chief Javier Solana replied: "Yes, I think the [Iranian] delegation came knowing it was a different setting than in previous meetings."