Iran General NewsU.S. pursuing increased pressure on Iran

U.S. pursuing increased pressure on Iran

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Reuters: Senior U.S. officials will consult allies in Europe next week on ways to intensify pressure on Iran amid efforts by Tehran to evade existing sanctions by concealing the origin of financial transactions. WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Senior U.S. officials will consult allies in Europe next week on ways to intensify pressure on Iran amid efforts by Tehran to evade existing sanctions by concealing the origin of financial transactions.

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said on Friday that with Iran becoming “increasingly dangerous,” the United States and its allies are discussing new sanctions to further curb Tehran’s access to the international financial system.

While Washington is committed to a diplomatic solution to its differences with Iran, Tehran must know “there are coercive elements to our policy as well,” Rice said in an exclusive interview with Maria Bartiromo on CNBC’s “Closing Bell” program.

Meanwhile, Undersecretary of Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Stuart Levey said he would visit London, Paris, Berlin and Frankfurt next week to “compare notes” about how Iran is using the international financial system to continue to pursue its nuclear program and support extremists.

Assistant Secretary of State John Rood, who handles non-proliferation issues, will accompany him.

“Some of the things we’ve been paying special attention to is how Iran has adapted financial practices that allow it to attempt to evade both controls of Islamic financial institutions as well as potentially to evade (U.N. and U.S.) financial measures that have been put in place,” Levey told reporters.

In a number of cases, Iranian state-owned institutions — including the central bank and Bank Sepah, which is under U.N. and U.S. sanctions — will ask other institutions they do business with to handle transactions without using their names, he said.

This risks involving international financial institutions that do have integrity in tainted transactions and “also is a means by which Iran can do something to evade sanctions that are in place,” Levey said.

The U.N. Security Council has adopted two resolutions imposing sanctions on Iran and demanding that it halt uranium enrichment, which major powers say is aimed at producing nuclear weapons. Tehran insists it only wants to develop nuclear power to meet the country’s burgeoning energy needs.

However, Washington also accuses Tehran of supporting Hizbollah militants in Lebanon, Hamas militants in Gaza and insurgents battling U.S. forces in Iraq.

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