Iran central bank in sanctions spotlight

The US is seeking to convince Russia and China to include Iran’s central bank in a United Nations sanctions resolution against Tehran’s nuclear programme, a move that would deepen the Islamic republic’s economic isolation.

Diplomats say Bank Markazi is a focus of discussions between the US and the other four permanent members of the UN Security Council, even as Washington has scaled back an earlier push to agree a complete embargo on arms sales to Iran.

“The central bank remains the one major financial institution which officials have outed as being involved in Iran’s illicit activity but has not yet been targeted,” said Matthew Levitt, a former US Treasury official now at the Washington Institute for Near East policy, who notes that the US itself has yet to impose unilateral sanctions on Markazi. “Closing that loophole would have a major impact on Iran’s ability to finance its proliferation and other illicit activities.”

Bank Markazi insists it has always adhered to the best international practices and has respected international laws.

Tehran says its nuclear programme is purely peaceful, but the US is increasingly confident that it will secure a resolution. It has now submitted a revised sanctions proposal to the other permanent Security Council members in an effort to meet Russian and Chinese concerns.

“Ideally sanctions would be broad and deep but at the minimum they have got to be broad,” said a senior administration official. “On m… >>>

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