Iran General NewsUS slaps sanctions on Iran's Bank Refah

US slaps sanctions on Iran’s Bank Refah

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AFP: The United States imposed sanctions Thursday on Iran’s Bank Refah for its ties with the country’s proscribed weapons programs.

WASHINGTON (AFP) — The United States imposed sanctions Thursday on Iran’s Bank Refah for its ties with the country’s proscribed weapons programs.

The US Treasury Department accused Bank Refah of providing financial services to the Iranian Ministry of Defense and Armed Forces Logistics (MODAFL) and the Iran Aircraft Manufacturing Industrial Company (HESA).

In recent years Bank Refah has helped MODAFL obtain millions of dollars’ worth of weapons-related purchases, the Treasury department said in a statement.

“These purchases included missiles and tanks and enabled Iran’s leadership to maintain its fighter jets and submarines. Bank Refah also facilitated payments from HESA to businesses and individuals linked to Iran’s weapons-related procurement,” the department said.

The two Iranian government entities are already under US sanctions. MODAFL, the arm of the Iranian military that oversees Iran’s ballistic missile program, was designated by the State Department in October 2007.

The Treasury targeted HESA in September 2008 for being owned or controlled by MODAFL and for providing support to the Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

The sanction was imposed under an executive order aimed at freezing the assets of proliferators of weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) and their supporters, cutting them off from the US financial and commercial systems.

“Treasury has now exposed and sanctioned 20 banks owned by the Government of Iran for supporting Iran’s nuclear and missile programs or terrorism,” US sanctions czar Stuart Levey said in the statement.

“The pervasiveness of this illicit conduct explains why legitimate financial institutions everywhere are deciding to shun Iranian banks.”

The United States has stepped up its efforts to isolate Iran-linked commercial entities tied to its military development programs since the United Nations Security Council ordered a fourth set of sanctions against Iran in June 2010.

The UN acted after Iran refused to halt its uranium enrichment work, the most sensitive part of Tehran’s controversial nuclear program that the US and others suspect is aimed at producing weapons.

Tehran denies the allegations, insisting it is only seeking to meet the energy needs of its population.

Tehran-based Bank Refah became the 20th financial institution targeted under Treasury regulations issued last August.

Under these regulations, Treasury may prohibit, or impose strict conditions on, foreign financial institutions’ access to the US financial system for facilitating significant transactions or services for a financial firm sanctioned by the US over Iran’s WMD proliferation or support for international terrorism.

The Treasury noted that the European Union had imposed sanctions against Bank Refah in July 2010 for taking over Bank Melli’s ongoing operations after the latter was sanctioned by the EU.

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