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Republican Senators Push for Sanctions on Iran’s Entire Financial Sector

Republican Senators Push for Sanctions on Iran’s Entire Financial Sector

Sunday, 20 September, 2020 - 09:15
Police officers wearing face masks guard the US Capitol Building in Washington, US, May 14, 2020. (Reuters)

A group of Republican senators petitioned US President Donald Trump to press forward with a set of new sanctions on the entirety of Iran’s financial sector.

According to Executive Order No. 13902, the US Secretary of State and Treasury is allowed to impose sanctions on more sectors of the Iranian economy.

The six senators, led by Tom Cotton, have written to Trump urging him to sanction the entirety of Iran’s banking sector, which is still connected to SWIFT, the primary correspondence and fund transfer global system among banks.

In addition to Cotton, the letter was co-signed by Sens. John Cornyn, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Rick Scott and Thom Tillis.

The letter published on Cruz’s website praised the Trump administration approach to the Iranian regime, and called on him to intensify pressure on Tehran to force it to sit at the negotiating table.

The letter added: “At least 14 Iranian banks remain open and connected to the SWIFT financial messaging network for sanctions-free financial transactions, providing the regime a crucial economic lifeline.”

They informed the White House that these banks may be used by the Central Bank of Iran “as fronts for its activities.”

They stressed the need to target these banks with sanctions, indicating that Iran would be cut off from the global financial system entirely, and the regime's ability to fund its malign regional influence would be even further diminished.

Trump is expected to sign an executive order imposing sanctions to punish anyone who violates the arms embargo imposed on Iran, which is expected to take effect on Sunday.

Meanwhile, The New York Times reported that Iran abandoned plans it had a year ago to deliver an election season surprise this fall.

The newspaper explained that despite recent pressures on Iran, accusing it of plotting to assassinate US diplomats, punishing the Ministry of Intelligence and cyber espionage companies, preparing unilateral sanctions and condemning its interference in the US elections, Tehran backed away from its plans.

NYT cited US officials as saying that among the operations that Iran could have carried out an attack on Gulf shipping or Middle Eastern oil production intended to shock global financial markets and hurt Trump’s chances of re-election.

Iran recalculated after the pandemic devastated the world economy, making any sort of attack on oil production ineffective.

Iran also believes that any strike beyond cyberattacks would benefit Trump, allowing him to rally his base and give the United States an opportunity for a military response, according to US, allied and Iranian officials, reported NYT.

The Trump administration presented Iran as a threat to the fall election similar to Russia, an assessment that intelligence officials and outside experts say is wrong.

Intelligence officers reported Iranian leaders have concluded that restraint is the best way to prevent Trump's re-election, referring to statements attributed to supreme leader Ali Khamenei in which he demanded the adoption of “strategic patience.”

Iranian leaders are convinced that the United States and Israel are running operations against them, according to allied officials briefed on intelligence. But they have held back on major retaliation.

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