Iran has begun to pay an economic price for its pursuit of nuclear weapons and support for terrorism, says U.S. Under Secretary of State Nicholas Burns. Over the past year, the United States has prohibited two large Iranian banks -- Bank Saderat and Bank Sepah -- from doing any business with American financial institutions.
The trend to curtail contact with Iran is growing, says Mr. Burns:
"We have also seen several European banks, Credit Suisse, Credit Lyonnais, and H-S-B-C, shut down all lending to Iran over the last year. And increasingly we are seeing a nervousness in the international financial community about doing business in Iran . . . .We also would like to see institutions like the E-U and the European countries, Japan, and some of the Arab countries, take their own measures, and we have begun to see that."
Recently, Stuart Levey, U.S. Under Secretary of the Treasury for terrorism and financial intelligence, spoke to a group of Arab businessmen in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates. He said that the private sector is also putting pressure on Iran. "Corporations are in the process of reconsidering their investments in Iran because they do not want revenue generated from their projects diverted toward threatening and destabilizing policies such as illicit weapons proliferation and terrorism," said Mr. Levey. He warned other corporations against filling the gap that is being created as companies step back from Iran. Those companies are rightly concluding, said Mr. Levey, that there is too great a risk to investment and reputation in doing business there.
Ultimately, "it is our goal to convince Iran that it can no longer afford to head down its destabilizing path," says Mr. Levey. "The imposition of government-imposed financial measures, coupled with the private sector's own initiative to reevaluate business with Iran, has already sparked debate inside Iran. . . .It is our hope," says Under Secretary of the Treasury Levey, "that Iran will realize that the only way to return to the international fold – and protect its economy – is to reverse its self-isolating behavior."