AFP: US officials wrapped up Friday an extensive visit to eight nations to push for the implementation of US and UN sanctions on Iran over its controversial nuclear program, the Treasury Department said.
WASHINGTON, August 20, 2010 (AFP) – US officials wrapped up Friday an extensive visit to eight nations to push for the implementation of US and UN sanctions on Iran over its controversial nuclear program, the Treasury Department said.
In Bahrain, Brazil, Ecuador, Japan, Lebanon, South Korea, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates, they emphasized in talks that foreign banks risked losing access to the US financial system if they continued to do business with those blacklisted over the Iranian issue, a statement said.
Stuart Levey, the Treasury’s pointman on the Iranian sanctions, called on governments to be wary of and take steps to prevent any Iranian attempts to circumvent the sanctions.
“As international pressure mounts and its economic isolation increases, Iran will attempt to seek out new channels to access the international financial system for illicit purposes,” Levey said.
“It is incumbent upon governments to put into place the appropriate mechanisms to protect against this threat.”
The UN Security Council in June slapped its fourth set of sanctions on Iran over its refusal to halt its uranium enrichment work, part of a nuclear program which many nations fear masks a drive for nuclear weapons.
The United States, European Union, Canada and Australia have also announced additional sanctions.
The officials who went on the trip were from the Treasury, the State Department and the White House.
In meetings with senior government officials, bank regulators and banking sector leaders, the Treasury officials “highlighted the impact that the latest round of sanctions have already begun to have on Iran’s economy,” the statement said.
It cited “the government of Iran’s inability to attract foreign investment, develop its oil and gas fields, acquire financial services and maintain financial relationships with the international community.”
The officials made “the case for concerted action to persuade the government of Iran to change its behavior.”
Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said this week that any talks with the United States would take place only if Washington drops “sanctions and threats” against Tehran.
The all-powerful Khamenei also blamed Washington for Iran’s defiant move to enrich uranium to 20 percent, the most controversial aspect of its nuclear program.