AFP: The US Treasury on Monday announced sanctions against Iran’s Bank Tejarat, claiming all of the Islamic Republic’s major state-owned banks have now been subjected to punitive measures.
WASHINGTON (AFP)— The US Treasury on Monday announced sanctions against Iran’s Bank Tejarat, claiming all of the Islamic Republic’s major state-owned banks have now been subjected to punitive measures.
Just hours after the European Union slapped an embargo on Iranian oil, the Treasury Department announced measures to close a financial noose around the regime — which is accused of building nuclear weapons.
The sanctions are expected to make it more difficult for Iran to do business with the rest of the world and to get revenue from its vast Iran and gas exports.
“At a time when banks around the world are cutting off Iran and its currency is depreciating rapidly, today’s action against Bank Tejarat strikes at one of Iran’s few remaining access points to the international financial system,” said senior Treasury official David Cohen.
Bank Tejarat, Iran’s third largest, is accused of aiding Iranian weapons of mass destruction programs, including moving tens of millions of dollars to help a state-run agency acquire uranium.
Bank Tejarat is said to have around 2,000 branches in Iran and foreign offices in France and Tajikistan.
“Today’s sanction against Bank Tejarat will deepen Iran’s financial isolation, make its access to hard currency even more tenuous, and further impair Iran?s ability to finance its illicit nuclear program,” said Cohen.
The measures are part of a concerted effort to put pressure on the Iranian regime, and forcing Tehran to
abandon its weapons programs.
Iran denies that its nuclear program is for military purposes.
US officials point to Iran’s bellicose statements and the plummeting value of the Iranian currency as evidence that the impact of sanctions is becoming more acute.
According to one senior Treasury official, the Iranian currency has lost over 70 percent of its value against the dollar since late last year.
“Iran’s leadership appears to be desperately trying to prop up the value of the rial; in recent weeks the
government has tried to ban the sale of Western currency,” said the official, who asked not to be named.
“(Iran) reportedly has restricted citizens’ ability to communicate by blocking text messages with the word euro or dollar. Plainclothes police officers are reportedly patrolling the currency exchanges to enforce currency restrictions and arrest violators.”