WASHINGTON - The United States will rigorously enforce "without fear or fail" sanctions starting on July 1 that ban governments or private companies from selling gold to Iran, a top Treasury official said on Wednesday.

David Cohen, the Treasury Department's undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, told lawmakers in testimony there had been an increase in gold sales to Iran in response to the sharp depreciation in Iran's currency, the rial.

The rial has lost two-thirds of its dollar value since late 2011 as a result of Western sanctions targeting the banking system and oil exports over Tehran's disputed nuclear activities, putting many Iranians under financial pressure.

"I can assure you we are looking very carefully at evidence that anyone outside of Iran is selling gold to the government of Iran," Cohen told the House of Representatives' Foreign Relations Committee in testimony on Iran.

From July 1, the United States will ban the transfer of any precious metals or gold to Iranian state and private institutions, as well as Iranian citizens, as part of its effort to pressure Iran to curb its nuclear program.

Asked whether he was aware of a rise in gold sales from Turkey to Iran, Cohen acknowledged there was "no question that there is gold going from Turkey to Iran."

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