October 09, 2018

Europe steps up drive to exempt Swift from Iran sanctions

Featuring Elizabeth Rosenberg

Source: The Financial Times

Journalist Katrina Manson

European finance ministers will try to persuade the Trump administration not to cut off Iran’s access to Swift, the global financial messaging service, in meetings with Steven Mnuchin, the US Treasury secretary, at the IMF gathering in Bali this week.

The Trump administration is due to reimpose hefty sanctions against Iran on November 5, including secondary sanctions on financial messaging services to the Central Bank of Iran and some Iranian financial institutions.

France, Germany and the UK — which signed on to the seven-party 2015 Iran nuclear deal from which Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew in May — are frustrated that they have not been able to convince the Trump administration to take a softer line on Belgium-based Swift.

“Our ask is: why bother ripping out all of the electrical cables from a building if you can switch off a light,” said a European diplomat who confirmed the planned meetings. “If you can designate a bank [for sanctions] then there’s no need to force Swift to disconnect from Iran.”

The disagreement over Swift was heading for “a diplomatic train wreck”, according to another person familiar with the matter. European officials who met US officials last month to ask for leniency have so far drawn a blank.

Read the full article and more at the Financial Times.

  • Elizabeth Rosenberg

    Senior Fellow and Director, Energy, Economics and Security Program

    Elizabeth Rosenberg is a Senior Fellow and Director of the Energy, Economics, and Security Program at the Center for a New American Security. In this capacity, she publishes a...