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  1. #1
    Atomic Punk
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    12.11.17 @ 04:37 PM
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    White House wants Iran evicted from clearinghouse crucial to its oil sales....

    White House wants Iran evicted from clearinghouse crucial to its oil sales, possibly crippling Iran financially

    WASHINGTON – 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.

    Lawyers for SWIFT are holding meetings in Washington. People familiar with the talks say a compromise is possible in which SWIFT would voluntarily bar or restrict Iranian transfers.

    But if SWIFT fails to act on its own, the U.S. expects Europe to require it to terminate services for Iranian banks, another Obama administration official said.

    The officials spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly.

    David Cohen, the Treasury Department's undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, delivered that message to European Union officials in Brussels earlier this month, said the official, who was not authorized to speak publicly and thus spoke only on the condition of anonymity.

    Mark Dubowitz, a sanctions expert advising the White House on Iran, said the Obama administration is having detailed discussions on the merits and consequences of forcing SWIFT to block Iranian transactions.

    Some in the administration also prefer to give time for new sanctions on Iran's Central Bank, officially enforced starting just this month, to take hold before layering on a round of even more draconian penalties.

    SWIFT was involved in a separate controversy when it was revealed in 2006 that it had skirted the EU's strict privacy laws after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks by transferring millions of pieces of personal information from its U.S. offices to American authorities as part of the US Terrorist Finance Tracking Program.

    "It is an essential cog in the wheel, if not the wheel itself, in international financial transactions and trade," said David Aufhauser, former general counsel at the Treasury Department who worked with SWIFT to set up that information transfer.

    SWIFT handles cross-border payments for more than 10,000 financial institutions and corporations in 210 countries. It lets users exchange financial information securely and reliably, thereby lowering costs and reducing risk. It operates on trust and neutrality -- SWIFT accepts nearly all comers and does not judge the merits of the transactions passing through its secure message system. Its managers generally brush off investigators and enforcement agencies, telling them to take up suspected wrongdoing directly with nations or corporations.

    Established in 1973, the essential but little-known hub is overseen by major central banks, including the U.S. Federal Reserve and the European Central Bank.

    Lawyers familiar with SWIFT's operations said it could bar processing actions with any Iranian party or third parties representing Iran, though that would open the consortium to complaints of favoritism or political influence. It could permit the processing but quarantine Iranian transactions, or require warnings to those doing business with Iran. Penalties on Iran short of expulsion could allow SWIFT to preserve a greater appearance of neutrality but make business partners think twice, lawyers said.

    Proponents of blocking Iran from SWIFT say the financial network's own bylaws require that its services not be used to facilitate illegal activities and allow it to prohibit users that are subject to sanctions.

    While the U.S. and Europe debate options, some American lawmakers are trying to increase pressure on SWIFT. The Senate Banking Committee passed a measure earlier this month directing the White House to press SWIFT to block Iranian entities.

    A tougher House bill would compel the administration to sanction SWIFT unless it stopped providing services to Iran.

    The pending legislation has caught the attention of officials at SWIFT. The financial network's general counsel and other advisers requested a meeting with congressional lawmakers and staff next week, Senate aides said.

    Officials close to the White House say the Obama administration is comfortable with the less restrictive language in the Senate Banking Committee measure, but has concerns that more-binding legislation would leave the U.S. less flexibility in dealing with Iran.

    SWIFT did not respond to requests for comment. In a brief statement posted on its website, the consortium said it is committed to fighting misuse of the financial system to finance terrorism and has cooperated with enforcement agencies in the U.S. and Europe.

    Without addressing the specifics of a full expulsion or more limited block on Iranian transactions, SWIFT's statement urged caution.

    "SWIFT remains committed to maintaining its role as a neutral global financial communications network" while complying with sanctions laws, the statement said.
    "Watch what people are cynical about, and one can often discover what they lack.” -- Gen. George S. Patton

  2. #2
    Baluchitherium
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    12.14.17 @ 10:41 PM
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    Fuck. Since 9/11, the world will never be good again.
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  3. #3
    Good Enough Thai Boxer 9901's Avatar
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    08.28.16 @ 11:47 PM
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    I have a feeling that if we keep pushing Iran into a corner, they are bound to come back swinging. And hard.

    This reminds me of Japan before Pearl Harbor. Although the situations are different, the ideas are still the same. We pushed Japan into a corner by cutting off their oil supplies. If we do something similar to Iran, they might go off the deep end and do something really fuckin stupid.
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  4. #4
    Atomic Punk
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    12.16.17 @ 04:48 AM
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dick Punch View Post
    Fuck. Since 9/11, the world will never be good again.
    Optimism

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    Hang 'Em High sickman's Avatar
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    12.15.17 @ 03:21 AM
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    Quote Originally Posted by Thai Boxer 9901 View Post
    I have a feeling that if we keep pushing Iran into a corner, they are bound to come back swinging. And hard.

    This reminds me of Japan before Pearl Harbor. Although the situations are different, the ideas are still the same. We pushed Japan into a corner by cutting off their oil supplies. If we do something similar to Iran, they might go off the deep end and do something really fuckin stupid.
    Yeah, look where it got Japan. This is a different world though. Even if we were to drop a nuke on Iran we would probably give them 2 weeks notice so they can evacuate and for journalists to get over there to report it.
    I used to jog but the ice cubes kept falling out of my glass.

  6. #6
    Atomic Punk Wruff_ajax's Avatar
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    12.15.17 @ 04:59 PM
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    Quote Originally Posted by Thai Boxer 9901 View Post
    I have a feeling that if we keep pushing Iran into a corner, they are bound to come back swinging. And hard.
    Lol wtf is Iran gonna do?
    _-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_

  7. #7
    Atomic Punk
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    12.11.17 @ 04:37 PM
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    U.S. imposes new sanctions on Iran
    July 31 The Washington Post

    The Obama administration and Congress moved separately Tuesday to tighten the economic screws on Iran, betting that additional pressure from sanctions will force Iranian officials to accept a compromise to curb their nuclear activities.

    The White House imposed new penalties on two foreign banks — one in China, another in Iraq — for allegedly acting as surrogates for Iranian financial institutions that have been nearly shut down by previous rounds of U.S. and European sanctions.

    The administration also announced expanded restrictions on the purchase of Iranian petrochemical products, such as methanol and xylene. Iran’s petroleum industry already faces tough U.N. sanctions and a Europewide embargo on crude exports.

    Iran has resisted compromising on its nuclear program — which it maintains is solely for the purpose of peaceful energy production — through five rounds of international negotiations.

    President Obama, in a statement announcing the new sanctions, said the administration remained committed to finding a diplomatic solution to the Iranian nuclear crisis but said the “onus is on Iran to abide by its international obligations.”

    “If the Iranian government continues its defiance, there should be no doubt that the United States and our partners will continue to impose increasing consequences,” the statement said.

    The announcement came hours before U.S. lawmakers were due to vote on a bipartisan measure that would slap still more economic sanctions on Iran. The compromise bill, approved by House and Senate negotiators late Monday, would expand penalties on companies doing business with Iran’s national oil company and tanker fleet and would make it harder for Iran to extract payment for any petroleum it does sell.

    “Unless Iran agrees to end its weapons program, we must continue to pursue even tougher measures,” said Rep. Howard L. Berman (Calif.), the ranking Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee and a co-sponsor of the bill.

    Lawmakers from both parties have been pushing to get legislation through Congress before the August recess to send a message of resolve to the Islamic republic.

    Iran has balked at proposals — put forward by the United States and five other powers during talks in the past three months — to curb its uranium enrichment program and take additional steps to ease international concerns about its nuclear ambitions.

    The most recent rounds of talks, last week in Istanbul, ended without a deal and with no additional negotiations scheduled. Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi on Monday said he expected that a date for a new round of negotiations would soon be set, but U.S. and European officials have been reluctant to agree to further negotiations without a clear indication that Iran is prepared to make concessions.

    Iran’s leaders “do not appear to have made the strategic decision to address the international community’s concerns about their nuclear program in a serious way,” said a senior administration official, insisting on anonymity in discussing sensitive international diplomacy.

    “Iran needs to understand that the international community is united, and Iran needs to commit to real, concrete steps back toward full compliance with its international obligations,” the official said.
    "Watch what people are cynical about, and one can often discover what they lack.” -- Gen. George S. Patton

  8. #8
    Atomic Punk
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    08/01/2012
    Obama team panics, forks over new Iran sanctions

    By Jennifer Rubin

    Contrary to liberal political pundits’ talking point of the day (Romney’s trip: Bad!), at least the Israel portion of the trip was so successful, and the embarrassment to President Obama so great (from the Israeli prime minister’s statement that sanctions haven’t worked and from Mitt Romney’s willingness to declare Jerusalem the capital), that the Obama team Tuesday rushed out what it has strenuously refused to present for seven months, namely more Iran sanctions. By executive order Obama agreed to sanction two financial institutions and make one of the Iranian financial work-arounds sanctionable.

    What changed between the time the State Department told Right Turn the administration had all the sanctions it needed and today? Why Romney’s trip of course. Oh, and the agreement by the House and Senate to pass additional sanctions (accompanied by bad press pointing out the administration’s foot-dragging.)

    Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), whose efforts to impose tough sanctions have been blocked or delayed at every turn by Democrats, put out a gracious statement praising the Treasure Department officials who worked on the additional items the president signed off on, which read in part: “I applaud Under Secretary Cohen and Assistant Secretary Glaser for their efforts to designate Bank of Kunlun and Elaf Bank, and to crack down on alternate payment mechanisms used by Iran to evade financial sanctions. The European Union should immediately follow suit and order SWIFT to disconnect Kunlun and Elaf from its network.”

    He however also noted that the legislation agreed upon by Congress, parts of which the administration has opposed: “A broad bipartisan coalition overcame objections from some in the Administration to ratchet up energy and shipping sanctions to unprecedented levels, expand the Menendez-Kirk sanctions against the Central Bank of Iran, and increase penalties facing those who violate our sanctions. In the coming weeks, should the Iranian regime continue to defy the U.N. Security Council and refuse to halt its uranium enrichment activities, we will build a new bipartisan coalition to impose farther-reaching sanctions.” (Emphasis added.)

    Mark Dubowitz, of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, with tongue in cheek, explained to me why the administration acted yesterday: “To demonstrate that the administration can be proactive and not just reactionary on sanctions and to deal with the criticism that Congress has forced the administration into adopting the most forceful measures which, after initially rejecting, the administration is now embracing enthusiastically and touting their efficacy.”

    He nevertheless welcomed the move, however belated, which will “crack down on the various ways in which the Iranians are using payment channels both inside and outside the formal financial system in order to get access to the hard currency from oil sales that are the economic lifeblood of the regime.” He argued:

    The administration should take the next step of designating Iran’s entire energy sector as a zone of primary proliferation concern, which would automatically blacklist every activity, transaction, mechanism, workaround, and entity used by Iran to sell its oil.

    By doing so, the U.S. government will stay ahead of the Iranian regime’s relentless drive to find new ways to do an end run around U.S. measures.
    Also, today’s designation of Kunlun under CISADA is a welcome step because it targets China’s main financial conduit for Iranian oil purchases and prohibits Kunlun from setting up new banking relationships with U.S. banks. But, to be more effective, since Kunlun has no current U.S. banking relationships, and is therefore immune to U.S. pressure, the administration needs to encourage the EU to designate Kunlun and demand that SWIFT immediately expel Kunlun from the SWIFT network. That will get the attention of Kunlun, its Chinese parent company CNPC, and all of Iran’s other extraterritorial bankers.
    In other words, why the heck aren’t we at full throttle now on all available sanctions?

    The Romney campaign in a written statement accused the Obama team of “leading from behind” once again. (“Since taking office three and a half years ago, President Obama has allowed Iran’s nuclear ambitions to proceed unimpeded. As Israel’s prime minister recently made clear, the Obama Administration’s efforts haven’t made an ‘iota’ of difference. The president’s refusal to take a tough stance when it comes to Iran has imperiled our allies and jeopardized our national security.”) The attack hit a nerve.

    U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice tried to paper over some of the administration’s problem:“What the Prime Minister of Israel was saying was that to date, they still have a nuclear program. And obviously, that’s a fact. And one that we share grave concern about.” Well, yes. That would fall under the category of “haven’t worked ‘one iota.’ ”

    In a tell-tale sign of defensiveness, the Obama crew was spinning to the media throughout the day that there is no difference between Obama and Romney on Iran. Au contraire. Romney wanted to enact tough sanctions years ago (for example at the Herzliya Conference five years ago), “impose diplomatic isolation” on Iran’s leaders and make credible the potential for a military option. “Diplomatic isolation should also include an indictment of Ahmadinejad for incitement to genocide under the Geneva Convention.”) He advocated U.S. support for the Green Movement, and he wanted there to be no doubt there was any diplomatic separation between the United States and Israel. And unlike Obama, Romney has long appreciated that the “Muslim world is not one undifferentiated mass. (our “mission would be to support progressive Muslim communities and leaders in every nation where radical Islam is battling modernity and moderation. This Partnership for Prosperity should help provide the tools and funding necessary for moderates to win the debate in their own societies. They need secular public schools, not Wahhabi schools, micro credit . . .”) Yeah, other than all that Obama and Romney are, like, totally the same.

    In short, the only time Obama acts serious on Iran is when he has a political problem or is about to be shown up by domestic political opponents. After November, he’ll have nothing to incentivize him to act. Certainly, voters are smart enough to figure that out. And Israelis sure are.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/...VqNX_blog.html
    "Watch what people are cynical about, and one can often discover what they lack.” -- Gen. George S. Patton

 

 

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