EU tightens financial measures against Iran

BRUSSELS - The European Union is tightening financial restrictions on Iran as part of the bloc's attempts to pressure Tehran to abandon its nuclear program, the EU Council said on Thursday.
The Council, which represents EU member states, has already imposed asset freezes and other restrictions on a number of people and entities associated with Iran's nuclear activities.
"In this context, the Council agreed that no specialized financial messaging shall be provided to those persons and entities subject to an asset freeze," the Council said in a statement.
Details of the move would be published in the EU Official Journal on Friday, the Council said.
Belgium-based SWIFT (Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication) provides messaging for the bulk of global cross-border payments.
The EU and others have been ratcheting up pressure on Iran, after the International Atomic Energy Agency said in November that it had evidence Iran had worked on designing a nuclear bomb. EU governments agreed in January to ban Iranian crude oil imports and imposed sanctions on its central bank and other financial institutions.