The Treasury Department's War with Iran

[New York Times Magazine] Robin Wright - Diplomacy is, at the moment, going nowhere. Efforts in the UN and the IAEA have done little to prevent Iran from growing ever closer to acquiring the capacity to manufacture nuclear fuel. At the same time, there is very little genuine enthusiasm in Washington today for a military option in Iran. Last year, Congress approved an astonishing $400 million for intelligence operations against Iran, but senior officials acknowledge that covert actions - primarily aid to ethnic proxies and broadcasts into Iran - are only an irritant. In Iraq and Afghanistan, U.S. Special Forces have focused on the Quds Force, Iran's covert military wing, and its local agents. Dozens have been detained; truckloads of Iranian arms have been uncovered. What remains is the idea of sanctions. In January 2006, Stuart Levey, the undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence at the Treasury Department, decided it was time to mobilize the private sector, starting with the world's banks, to join the effort to sanction Iran. The Treasury Department started blacklisting Iran's biggest banks, urging other nations to follow suit. In 2006, Bank Saderat was barred from direct or indirect business with U.S. banks. In early 2007, the department sanctioned Bank Sepah for financing projects to develop missiles that could carry nuclear weapons. The Treasury Department then blacklisted Bank Melli, Iran's largest bank. Big banks in Britain, France, Germany, Japan and Italy curbed business with Iran, even with longstanding clients. Banks in Muslim countries, from Bahrain to Malaysia, have cut back their Iran business, as have several Chinese banks.

2008-11-03 01:00:00

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