US urges firms to step away from Iran

Last Updated: Tuesday, June 22, 2010 - 22:42

Washington: The US government urged
private companies to go beyond official sanctions and trim
back questionable ties with Iran on Tuesday, as Washington eyed
additional sanctions against the Islamic republic.

A senior Treasury official said firms that decided not
to trade with government-linked Iranian companies had played
an "extremely important" role in building pressure against
Tehran, which is suspected of trying to build a nuclear bomb.
"Voluntary actions of the private sector amplify the
effectiveness of government-imposed measures," said Stuart
Levey, the top Treasury official dealing with sanctions, in
prepared testimony for Congress.

Top US lawmakers are currently crafting Iran sanctions
aimed at piling pressure on Tehran, measures that could be
adopted as soon as this week.

The bill would target non-US firms that sell goods,
services or know-how to Iran that help the Islamic republic
develop its energy sector, including insurance, financing and
shipping companies.

It would also enable US states and local governments
to divest from foreign firms engaged in Iran`s energy sector,
and would tighten the existing US trade embargo on Iranian
goods by curbing the number of exempted products.

Levey continued to emphasize the role played by
private companies in ramping up pressure on Iran.
"Once some of the private sector decide to cut off
ties to Iran, it becomes an even greater reputational risk for
others not to follow, and so often they do.

"Such voluntary reductions in ties to Iran, beyond the
requirements of the UN and US sanctions programs, in turn
makes it even more palatable for foreign governments to impose
restrictive measures because their countries` commercial
interests are reduced."

PTI



First Published: Tuesday, June 22, 2010 - 22:42

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