WICKER, HYDE-SMITH ENCOURAGE TREASURY DEPT. TO BLOCK IRAN’S ACCESS TO FINANCIAL SERVICES
‘The Administration’s Maximum Pressure Campaign Will Not Succeed if the Islamic Republic Remains Connected’
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) and Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.) are encouraging the U.S. Treasury Department to deny Iran access to critical international financial services as part of President Trump’s “maximum pressure” campaign to rein in the terrorist state.
The Mississippi lawmakers are among 16 Senators who signed a letter to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin expressing strong support for blocking Iranian access to a key international banking messaging system that connects financial institutions around the world. The correspondence also praises the Trump administration’s “maximum pressure” strategy to compel Iran to cease nuclear weapons development, terrorism financing, and repression of its citizens.
“President Trump was right to withdraw from the failed Iran nuclear deal and the Administration should now go further to maximize pressure on Tehran,” Wicker said. “Blocking Iran’s access to financial services would encourage the regime to abandon its nuclear programs, support of terrorism, and threats to Israel and regional security.”
“Iran is an unapologetic sponsor of global terrorism, and cutting off Iran’s ability to finance those activities is necessary,” Hyde-Smith said. “President Trump and Secretary Mnuchin should absolutely keep working to stop Iran from advancing any further as a bad actor on the world stage.”
The letter, led by Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas), asks Mnuchin to take all necessary steps to ensure the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT) disconnects the Central Bank of Iran and all other designated Iranian financial institutions.
“Please be assured that we will urge the President and our congressional colleagues to provide the necessary resources for the Department’s sanctions enforcement efforts. Quick robust enforcement will be critical for the administration’s maximum pressure strategy to succeed, both immediately to drain the Iranian regime’s resources for malign behavior and as a signal of America’s commitment to maintaining the integrity of our sanctions architecture,” the letter said. “The administration’s maximum pressure campaign will not succeed if the Islamic Republic remains connected to SWIFT,”
In addition to Wicker and Hyde-Smith, the letter was also signed by Senators John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), David Perdue (R-Ga.), Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Ben Sasse (R-Neb.), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), and Todd Young (R-Ind.).
The letter is available here and below:
Dear Secretary Mnuchin,
We write to express our support and appreciation for the Treasury Department’s efforts to impose maximum pressure on the Iranian regime. The President’s executive order of August 6, 2018 was the product of hard work by many talented professionals working over several months, and we thank all the Department’s dedicated public servants for their commitment to advancing America’s national security interests. We also share your hope that one day the Iranian people will have a government that represents their interests and invests in their needs, rather than funneling money toward developing nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles, financing terrorism, committing human rights atrocities, and oppressing its citizens.
We understand that Iran’s leaders are working with American adversaries, and reportedly even with some allies, to circumvent these sanctions. Please be assured that we will urge the President and our congressional colleagues to provide the necessary resources for the Department’s sanctions enforcement efforts. Quick robust enforcement will be critical for the administration’s maximum pressure strategy to succeed, both immediately to drain the Iranian regime’s resources for malign behavior and as a signal of America’s commitment to maintaining the integrity of our sanctions architecture.
In November the Department will re-impose even tougher sanctions on the Iranian regime, including against financial institutions across Iran, which the Department identifies as a jurisdiction of “primary money laundering concern” under section 311 of the USA PATRIOT Act. We urge you to take all necessary steps to ensure the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT) disconnects the Central Bank of Iran (CBI) and all other designated Iranian financial institutions. The administration’s maximum pressure campaign will not succeed if the Islamic Republic remains connected to SWIFT.
Section 220 of the Iran Threat Reduction and Syria Human Rights Act of 2012 authorizes the President to impose sanctions on persons providing specialized messaging services to the CBI and all designated Iranian financial institutions, pursuant to section 104(c) of the Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability, and Divestment Act of 2010 and the International Emergency Economic Powers Act. We are encouraged by reports indicating that, if necessary, the President will use that authority to impose sanctions on directors of SWIFT and their employing financial institutions. All banks represented on the board of SWIFT must be held accountable if they circumvent American sanctions and empower the Iranian regime.
Again, thanks to you and the Department for all your efforts.