Allies Muted as US Wages Financial Offensive on Iran

A0087080.jpgTEHRAN (Fars News Agency)- The United States is taking the financial fight to Iran as it steps up pressure on its allies to get tough over the Islamic republic’s nuclear plans. But are its partners listening?

Washington has intensified financial action against Tehran in the fortnight since Iran ignored US demands to suspend its uranium enrichment activities.

On September 8, the Treasury Department froze Bank Saderat, one of Iran’s largest lenders with some 3,400 branches, from doing any business with US-owned banks.

Meanwhile, the United States has acknowledged that it faces tough resistance as it presses for UN sanctions against Iran over the nuclear issue.

Britain, France and Germany are optimistic that their talks with Iran are making progress towards defusing the standoff.

But President George W. Bush Friday warned US partners not to take pressure off Iran.

“My concern is that, you know, they’ll stall; they’ll try to wait us out,” said Bush, who will address the UN General Assembly in New York on Tuesday.

The US government may have been emboldened by its recent wave of financial sanctions against North Korea, which it believes have dealt a real blow to the Stalinist state’s reported forgery of US currency and money-laundering.

In line with the US sanctions on Iran, only three Japanese banks will refrain from doing business with Bank Saderat, while But Japanese Finance Minister Sadakazu Tanigaki said the G7 statement did not necessarily target Iran, which supplies much of Japan’s oil.

And top European Union officials have made no mention of the Iran issue at their public appearances.

One Gulf delegate at the Singapore meetings said regional markets in hubs such as Dubai had shown no reaction to the US clampdown.

“They see it as more of a US-generated fuss, as the Europeans aren’t getting excited,” he said on condition of anonymity.

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