US lawmakers are seeking to include international banks in sanctions legislation on Iran, as part of a push to widen its scope and bring in more targets.
People close to negotiations on Capitol Hill say discussions are intensifying about introducing measures into the final text – such as sanctions against Iran’s Revolutionary Guard and those involved in the crackdown on the country’s opposition as well as measures in the financial sector.
Matthew Levitt, a former US Treasury official now at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, said measures on banks that did business with designated Iranian financial groups would take sanctions in the sector to “another level”.
The move to toughen up the unilateral legislation follows a delay of almost six months, which Congress agreed to help the Obama administration to build an international consensus on United Nations sanctions on Iran.
With sanctions agreed at the UN, many politicians argue that delays – and what they see as the relative weakness of UN resolutions – mean there is more reason to proceed with tougher sanctions legislation than was envisaged.