Crucial payment hub severs ties with Tehran
Iran has been largely cut off from global commerce after the company that handles worldwide financial transactions said it was severing ties with many Iranian banks to back European Union sanctions against Tehran.
The action on Thursday by the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT) aims to enforce EU sanctions discouraging Tehran from developing nuclear weapons.
It will go a long way toward isolating Iran financially.
SWIFT is a banking hub crucial to oil, financial transactions and other trades and global financial transactions are impossible to conduct without using it.
Because of its reach, SWIFT's decision to cut off some 30 Iranian banks and subsidiaries could hinder not only banking but also the country's lucrative crude oil industry and possibly hurt Iranian households that depend on remittances from relatives living abroad.
"Disconnecting banks is an extraordinary and unprecedented step for SWIFT,'' said Lazaro Campos, chief executive of the company. "It is a direct result of international and multilateral action to intensify financial sanctions against Iran.''
The announcements coincided with news that major money exchange houses in the United Arab Emirates, an important trading hub for Iran, have stopped handling the Iranian currency over the last several weeks.
SWIFT, a member-owned cooperative...