Whenever I see anyone making good decisions long after they could have done any good, I get really upset.
What a bunch of absolute idiots. Why haven’t we done this earlier?
We could have done this five years ago! TEN years ago!
It is so completely infuriating. We’ve known about Iran’s nuclear weapons program for something like ten years (or more). Why are we just now taking these steps?
What an amazing bunch of idiots.
By JULIE PACE and ANNE GEARAN, Associated Press
WASHINGTON (AP) — The United States and Europe are considering unprecedented punishment against Iran that could immediately cripple the country’s financial lifeline. But it’s an extreme option in the banking world that would come with its own costs.
The Obama administration wants Iran evicted from SWIFT, an independent financial clearinghouse that is crucial to the country’s overseas oil sales. That would leapfrog the current slow-pressure campaign of sanctions aimed at persuading Iran to drop what the U.S. and its allies contend is a drive toward developing and building nuclear weapons. It also perhaps would buy time for the U.S. to persuade Israel not to launch a pre-emptive military strike on Iran this spring.
The last-resort financial effort suggests the U.S. and Europe are grasping for ways to show immediate results because economic sanctions have so far failed to force Iran back to nuclear talks
But such a penalty could send oil prices soaring when many of the world’s economies are still frail. It also could hurt ordinary Iranians and undercut the reputation of SWIFT, a banking hub used by virtually every nation and corporation around the world. The organization’s full name is the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunications.
Meanwhile, violence is increasing. Explosions in Bangkok on Tuesday – Israel’s defense minister labeled them an “attempted terrorist attack” – came the day after Israel accused Iran of trying to kill its diplomats in India and Georgia. Those attacks followed the recent killings of Iranian scientists.
In the financial world, the United States can’t order SWIFT to kick Iran out. But it has leverage in that it can punish the Brussels-based organization’s board of directors. Talks are focused now on having Europe make the first move.
Short of total expulsion, Washington and representatives of several European nations are in talks over ways to restrict Iran’s use of the banking consortium to collect oil profits.
European action on SWIFT could come quickly.
Representatives from SWIFT were scheduled to meet with European Union officials this week, a U.S. official familiar with the talks said. The official said the meeting was expected to result in the EU ordering SWIFT to expel at least some of its sanctioned banks, though it was unclear whether the order would extend to Iran’s Central Bank.
The Obama administration is divided over whether the possible gain is worth the risk in trying to threaten SWIFT into kicking out a member country, in part because of concern that it would set back the global financial recovery. Iran remains a global financial player despite years of banking sanctions, and blocking it from using the respected transfer system would be a black mark like no other.
More than 40 Iranian banks and institutions use SWIFT to process financial transactions, and losing access to that flow of international funds could badly damage the Islamic republic’s economy. It would also probably hurt average Iranians more than the welter of existing banking sanctions already in place since prices for household goods would rise while the value of Iranian currency would drop.