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‘SWIFT’ Reaction: Iran May Block Oil Exports

Iran may block oil exports a threatened the world’s economies as a reaction to new sanctions, says its former intelligence minister.
By Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu
First Publish: 3/18/2012, 7:48 AM

Iranian tanker under coast guard escort near Singapore
Iranian tanker under coast guard escort near Singapore
Reuters

Iran may impose a blockade on oil exports that threaten the world’s economies as a reaction to new unprecedented sanctions, says its former intelligence minister Ali Fallahian.

Belgium’s Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT), which handles most international bank transfers, has eliminated Iran from its services.

The move is a “direct result of international and multilateral action to intensify financial sanctions against Iran," said SWIFT CEO Lazaro Campos. The embargo on Iran took effect Saturday and reduces Iran’s ability to use a secure network to receive payments. It also will affect Iranians wanting to receive money from relatives outside the country.

SWIFT’s decision is the harshest sanction placed on Iran in efforts to force the Islamic Republic to cooperate with United Nations nuclear inspectors and open up its nuclear facilities for surveillance to make sure it is not trying to build a nuclear weapon.The Western sanctions against companies dealing with Iran has not spread to China and India, but the SWIFT sanctions will make it harder for them to pay Iran, which has resorted to the barter system for some purchases.

“If the United States or Europe considers it its right to ignore international laws to meet its own interests, Iran may also decide to respond in kind wherever possible,” Fallahian told the government-controlled PRESS TV.

He said that the West should not underestimate Iran’s ability to close the Strait of Hormuz, the shipping channel between Iran and Oman that carries almost all of Iran’s oil exports, which provides a large amount of the world’s oil.

Economists have said that closing the channel could result in doubling the price of oil and cause an international recession.

Two factors working against a blockade are the United States and Saudi Arabia. American officials have said they could remove the blockade in a matter of weeks, and Saudi Arabia has declared it will pump more oil to make up for any loss in oil supply resulting from a blockade.

Saudi Arabia, like Israel and the United States, is adamantly opposed to Iran’s reaching nuclear capability and fears Iran’s declared intentions to dominate the entire Muslim world with an Islamic empire.