GOP lawmakers urge Iran's expulsion from SWIFT banking network

GOP lawmakers urge Iran's expulsion from SWIFT banking network
© Greg Nash

Republican lawmakers are urging Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinOn The Money: 0B more in Trump tariffs kick in | China calls off trade talks | CEO confidence slips over tariffs | GOP to move spending bill over Trump concerns | Behind the scenes look at how the GOP tax law passed How the Trump tax law passed: Breaking the gridlock  5 things to know about Trump's escalating trade war with China MORE to work to expel Iran from the primary financial system that oversees international bank transfers after the European Union announced a sizeable aid package to Tehran.

Sixteen GOP senators led by Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzTrump changes mean only wealthy immigrants may apply, says critic The Hill's Morning Report — Ford, Kavanaugh to testify Thursday as another accuser comes forward Viral video shows O’Rourke air-drumming to the Who’s ‘Baba O’Riley’ after Cruz debate MORE (R-Texas) thanked the Treasury Department for their “efforts to impose maximum pressure on the Iranian regime” in the letter they delivered to Mnuchin on Thursday,but wrote that those efforts would not matter without Iran’s removal from SWIFT.

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“We urge you to take all necessary steps to ensure the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT) disconnects the Central Bank of Iran (CBI) and all other designated Iranian financial institutions,” the senators wrote.

“The administration’s maximum pressure campaign will not succeed if the Islamic Republic remains connected to SWIFT.”

The senators delivered the letter after the European Union announced Thursday morning that they would be sending 18 million euros ($20.6 million) in aid to Iran to ease the effect of U.S. sanctions.

“All banks represented on the board of SWIFT must be held accountable if they circumvent American sanctions and empower the Iranian regime,” the Republican senators wrote.

The GOP members wrote, "Quick robust enforcement will be critical for the administration’s maximum pressure strategy to succeed, both immediately to drain the Iranian regime’s resources for malign behavior and as a signal of America’s commitment to maintaining the integrity of our sanctions architecture."

The lawmakers said they "are encouraged by reports indicating that, if necessary, the President will use that authority [granted to him by 2012 federal law] to impose sanctions on the directors of SWIFT and their employing financial institutions."

According to The Associated Press, SWIFT’s board includes executives from U.S. banks but is based in Belgium.

The EU has resisted America’s urging that its members follow the White House in withdrawing from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal. The bloc has forbidden European companies from complying with the U.S. sanctions on Iran, which America reimposed in May.