Iran General NewsUS Treasury chief urges allies to help cut off...

US Treasury chief urges allies to help cut off Iran’s banks

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AFP: Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson urged US allies Thursday to help cut off Iran’s banks from the global financial system, accusing the Iranian Revolutionary Guard of funding and training Middle East militant groups. by Justin Cole

WASHINGTON, June 14, 2007 (AFP) – Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson urged US allies Thursday to help cut off Iran’s banks from the global financial system, accusing the Iranian Revolutionary Guard of funding and training Middle East militant groups.

Paulson, in remarks prepared for delivery for a New York speech, some allies had not yet found the political will to enact the necessary measures to dismantle such networks. Paulson did not identify particular countries.

He said US officials were “increasingly focused” on the dealings of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps which Paulson claimed helps fund and train “other terrorist groups.”

“It is increasingly likely that if you are doing business with Iran, you are somehow doing business with the IRGC,” he said.

The United States has long accused Iran’s Qods Force, an arm of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, of arming and training Shiite extremist groups in Iraq.

But in recent weeks US military officials have said Iranian-made weapons, including armor piercing explosives known as explosively formed penetrators, or EFPs, have also turned up in Afghanistan.

Paulson said the effort comes amid increasing global concern about Iran’s nuclear program.

“It is well known that Iran is pursuing nuclear weapons in violation of international agreements and channeling hundreds of millions of dollars to terrorist groups,” Paulson said.

Paulson said the Treasury had reached out to financial leaders in foreign capitals in part to explain how he said Iran was using its banking system to bankroll “its dangerous behavior.”

The Treasury has cut Iran’s state-owned Bank Saderat off from any access to the US financial system in a move which also bars the overseas branches of US banks from having any dealings with the Iranian institution.

In January, the Treasury also moved against Iran’s Bank Sepah.

“Other nations often seem to lack the political will to take unilateral actions, and our goal has always been multilateral action,” Paulson said.

“Now the entire world must freeze Bank Sepah’s assets, and isolate it from the global financial system,” the former Wall Street executive urged.

Paulson said Iran’s banks have a record of supporting “terrorist groups such as Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Hamas.”

The Treasury secretary said Washington also had North Korean’s banking system in its sights, particularly banks he said were involved in that country’s weapons programs.

He cited the Treasury’s decision to cut off Macau-based Banco Delta Asia’s access to the US financial system.

Paulson said the Treasury was moving aggressively to shut down financial networks that support international terrorism, but urged US allies to be more proactive.

“Several of our allies who support the global effort against terrorism have yet to take such basic steps as adequately criminalizing money laundering and terrorist financing,” Paulson said.

“Our allies who confront risks at least as great as those confronting the United States, must find the political will to enact the authorities they need to join in effective multilateral action,” the Treasury chief said.

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