U.S. not backing off as Iran sanctions bite
The Obama administration's man in charge of squeezing Tehran over its nuclear program is unapologetic for the difficulties faced by banks in their dealings with Iran since the U.S. tightened sanctions against the country.
Companies that trade with Iran are struggling to get paid and the biggest Asian countries are scrambling to work around U.S. sanctions that aim to deprive Tehran of revenue needed to develop its nuclear program. "I don't feel apologetic about it because that is the consequence of these banks in Iran willingly facilitating transactions for Iran's nuclear programs," said David Cohen, undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence at the U.S. Treasury Department.
"If they are going to do that, they shouldn't be accessible to the international financial system. They shouldn't be financial institutions that any reputable bank wants to deal with," Cohen said in an interview.
The pressure has forced Iran to listen to U.S. demands, he said. "Do we think we have the attention of the leadership on their end? We have it like never before," he added.
Cohen's comments were a strong display of administration confidence in the measures against Iran, even as their effects have rippled through the marketplace faster than many had expected.
J.P. Morgan warned on Thursday of an acceleration of Iranian oil cutbacks, predicting Iranian supplies could be slashed by one million barrels a day in the first of the year. Since January, the price of oil has shot up nearly 15 percent.
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