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US Announces Sanctions on 18 Iranian Banks

In this file photo taken on May 20, 2019, Iranian women use automated teller machines (ATM) in Tehran. The Trump administration on Oct. 8, 2020, imposed sweeping sanctions on Iran's banking sector.

The U.S. government imposed new sanctions on 18 Iranian banks as Washington turned up the pressure on Tehran by further isolating it from the global banking system and hindering the country’s attempts to build nuclear weapons.

The steps, which were announced by the Treasury Department in a news release, hit 18 banks that have so far avoided previous U.S. sanctions.

According to the news release, the new sanctions will help “deny the Iranian government financial resources that may be used to fund and support its nuclear program, missile development, terrorism and terrorist proxy networks, and malign regional influence.”

“Today’s action to identify the financial sector and sanction eighteen major Iranian banks reflects our commitment to stop illicit access to U.S. dollars,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement. “Our sanctions programs will continue until Iran stops its support of terrorist activities and ends its nuclear programs.”

'Humanitarian transactions'

Mnuchin said the U.S. “will continue to allow for humanitarian transactions to support the Iranian people.”

The sanctioned banks include Amin Investment Bank, Bank Keshavarzi Iran, Bank Maskan, Bank Refah Kargaran, Bank-e Shahr, Eghtesad Novin Bank, Gharzolhasaneh Resalat Bank, Hekmat Iranian Bank, Iran Zamin Bank, Karafarin Bank, Khavarmianeh Bank (also known as Middle East Bank), Mehr Iran Credit Union Bank, Pasargad Bank, Saman Bank, Sarmayeh Bank, Tosee Taavon Bank (also known as Cooperative Development Bank), and Tourism Bank.

According to Bloomberg, the move basically isolates Iran from the global financial system.

Iran’s economy was already reeling from restrictions and sanctions enacted by the Trump administration when the U.S. walked away from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.

Sanctions have two goals

Bloomberg further reported that people familiar with the planning of the sanction said they have two goals: to close remaining financial loopholes to prevent the regime from earning money and to make it harder for the U.S. to re-enter the nuclear deal should Democrat candidate Joe Biden win the election.

Current U.S. sanctions target oil sales, shipping and financial activities, but exempt food, medicine and other humanitarian items.

In June, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said the country was experiencing its toughest year due to sanctions and the coronavirus, Reuters reported.