Silvan Shalom on Iran.
(photo credit: AMMAR AWAD / REUTERS)
Vice Premier Silvan Shalom said on Sunday that Israel is satisfied with SWIFT's decision to halt Iran's ability to use its electronic fund transfer system to make international transfers. He estimated that within a few weeks, the impact on the Iranian economy would become apparent.
SWIFT is the world's largest electronic payment system and on Saturday implemented its decision to cut off
30 Iranian banks blacklisted by EU supported economic sanctions. By
SWIFT's own admission, the move is "extraordinary" and "unprecedented."
Shalom, in an interview with Army Radio, said that the decision is likely to prove decisive in the struggle against Iran's [nuclear] arms race. “Iran is progressing with its nuclear weapons program in order to safeguard the regime's rule. But the moment that the sanctions become this severe, first with oil and now with [money] transfers, perhaps we will get to a point where they will understand that only abandoning the [nuclear weapons] program will allow the regime to survive,” said Shalom.
He added that in today's world, “We already don't do transfers using documents. Everything is done by international [electronic] transfers. What will they do now? Carry around suitcases with gold?”
Meanwhile, Iran responded to the SWIFT sanctions, characterizing them as unnecessary since Iran maintains that it has no desire to build a nuclear bomb. "I think they know pretty well, I think the United States intelligence services and the West know that we are not after building nuclear weapons," said Mohammad Javad Larijani, Secretary General of Iran's High Council on Human Rights.
On the other hand, the US is cheering the EU's move. Under Secretary of Treasury David Cohen said, "The decision reflects the growing international consensus that substantially increased pressure is needed to convince the Iranian regime to address the international community's concerns about its illicit nuclear activities."
The move will hurt Iran's all-important oil industry by complicating its ability to make and receive payments. It will also affect Iranian citizens by making it difficult for them to receive any money from relatives living abroad.