The U.S. Treasury on Monday announced sanctions against Iran’s Bank Tejarat, AFP reported.
The sanctions, which came just hours after the European Union slapped an embargo on Iranian oil, are expected to make it more difficult for Iran to do business with the rest of the world and to get revenue from its vast oil and gas exports.
“At a time when banks around the world are cutting off Iran and its currency is depreciating rapidly, today’s action against Bank Tejarat strikes at one of Iran’s few remaining access points to the international financial system,” senior Treasury official David Cohen was quoted by AFP as having said.
Bank Tejarat, which is Iran’s third largest, is accused of aiding Iranian programs to acquire weapons of mass destruction, including moving tens of millions of dollars to help a state-run agency acquire uranium.
It is said to have around 2,000 branches in Iran and foreign offices in France and Tajikistan.
Cohen added that the sanctions on the bank “will deepen Iran’s financial isolation, make its access to hard currency even more tenuous, and further impair Iran’s ability to finance its illicit nuclear program.”
The measures are part of a concerted effort to put pressure on the Iranian regime, aimed at forcing Tehran to abandon its weapons programs.
Several weeks ago, Washington placed sanctions on three companies from China, Singapore and the United Arab Emirates for selling refined oil products to Iran. The firms involved were Zhuhai Zhenrong Co. of China, Singapore trader Kuo Oil and the UAE’s FAL Oil Co.
Under the sanctions, all three companies are barred from receiving U.S. export licenses, trade support from the U.S. Export Import Bank, and loans over $10 million from U.S. financial institutions.
Last week, Iran scoffed sanctions by Western countries, saying there is a high demand for Iran’s crude oil supplies and Tehran has no problem maintaining exports.
Iranian Ambassador to South Korea, Ahmad Masoumifar, shrugged off Iran’s shrinking pools of customers, saying “we (Iran) are producing about 80 million barrels [of oil] and there is demand for about 90 million.”