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Possible new economic sanctions aimed at Iran

March 7, 2012 |  3:40 pm

Iran's ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency

REPORTING FROM WASHINGTON -- U.S. lawmakers are seeking additional economic sanctions to force Iran to negotiate limits on its nuclear program, which many countries fear is aimed at developing a nuclear bomb.

Even as Iran prepares for new talks with world powers over its nuclear program, the new sanctions measure is to be introduced by Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) and Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Sherman Oaks), who want to further extend sanctions on foreign companies that do business with the Islamic Republic.

Their measure would penalize international underwriters who insure or reinsure deals with Iran that are prohibited under U.S. law, including investments in the energy sector. The legislation would extend U.S. sanctions to all Iranian banks, and to foreign banks engaged in non-oil transactions with Iran.

The law would require international financial clearinghouses that may have helped Iran to move its money to disclose whether they are managing any Iranian assets, or providing services to clients who hold Iranian assets. Disclosure would allow authorities to carry out asset freezes and other steps called for in sanctions regulations.

The clearinghouses include Clearstream, Euroclear Group, and Depository Trust and Clearing Corp.

Working with European governments, Congress has adopted a series of measures in recent months that have disrupted Iran’s economy and its ties to the outside world.

A law adopted last fall sanctioned Iran’s central bank, and last month, targeted Swift, a Belgium-based firm that allows secure financial messaging. Swift is expected to bar the Iranian central bank and other sanctioned banks from using its system.

Iran insists its nuclear program is for peaceful civilian purposes rather than for building weapons.

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-- Paul Richter

Photo: Iran's ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency, Ali Asghar Soltanieh, is surrounded by media when arriving for the IAEA board of governors meeting in Vienna on Wednesday. Credit: Ronald Zak / Associated Press

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