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With US sanctions in place, SWIFT suspends access to certain Iranian banks

(JNS) The international financial transaction system known as the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication, or SWIFT, announced on Monday that it is “suspending certain Iranian banks’ access to the messaging system” after U.S. sanctions were reimposed on Nov. 5. They had been lifted under the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, which America exited in May.

“In keeping with our mission of supporting the resilience and integrity of the global financial system as a global and neutral service provider, SWIFT is suspending certain Iranian banks’ access to the messaging system,” SWIFT announced.

The Belgium-based organization noted that “this step, while regrettable, has been taken in the interest of the stability and integrity of the wider global financial system.”

Iran will still be able to access SWIFT for solely humanitarian purposes, said Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin in a conference call with reporters on Friday.

“Humanitarian transactions to non-designated entities will be allowed to use the SWIFT messaging system as they have done before, but banks must be very careful that these are not disguised transactions, or they could be subject to certain sanctions,” he said.

“This is the same as the pre-JCPOA sanctions in 2012-13,” Richard Goldberg of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies told JNS. “The worry, of course, is that Iran will use and abuse any channel we leave open to evade U.S. sanctions.”

Monday’s sanctions also included targeting Iranian sectors related to energy, shipping and ship-building, in addition to those in the insurance and transactions sector, including the Central Bank of Iran and designated Iranian financial institutions.

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