US lawmakers urge electronic banking system to drop Iran

February 2, 2012 18:48

WASHINGTON - US Senators agreed on Thursday to a plan that would pressure a global electronic platform used by the world's banks to stop providing services to Iranian banks blacklisted by the US Treasury.

The proposed measure is part of a package of new sanctions passed by the Senate Banking Committee that lawmakers hope will further crimp revenues that they say Tehran is using to develop nuclear weapons. Iran denies seeking nuclear arms.

If accepted, the provision would push the White House to press SWIFT, the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication, to shut out Iran's central bank and its other financial institutions from the infrastructure used for moving money between banks around the world.

"It is inconsistent and troubling that financial communications services providers continue to service those financial institutions" in Iran that are otherwise subject to sanctions, said the text of the measure, proposed by Democratic Senator Robert Menendez.

If the services provider failed to act, the measure would allow the Treasury Department to sanction Belgium-based SWIFT and the banks that own it 90 days after enactment. The final decision on sanctions would be left to the White House.

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