February 17, 2012
The United States is urging the European Union to block Iranian banks’ access to SWIFT, the global interbank transfer network, to step up pressure on Tehran, a US official said Thursday.
The US Treasury’s sanctions chief David Cohen raised the issue in talks in Brussels earlier this month, the official said, as Washington, Europe and their allies seek to isolate Iran to force it to halt its alleged nuclear weapons program.
“While there he discussed the issue of SWIFT providing services to designated Iranian banks and urged the EU to take action on the issue,” said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Belgium-based SWIFT — the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication — is a cooperative of more than 9,000 financial institutions that serves as the main conduit for inter-bank transactions around the world.