US,Europe plan to hit Iran

The US and Europe are weighing unprecedented punishment against Iran

Written by Associated Press | Washington | Published: February 16, 2012 12:50:50 am

The US and Europe are weighing unprecedented punishment against Iran that could cripple the country’s financial lifeline but result in higher oil prices for the US and its allies. Underscoring the potential costs,Iran on Wednesday warned ambassadors of Italy,Spain,France,the Netherlands,Greece and Portugal,in Tehran,that it would cut oil exports.

The Obama administration wants Iran evicted from SWIFT,an independent financial clearinghouse that is crucial to the country’s overseas oil sales. That would leapfrog the current slow-pressure campaign of sanctions aimed at persuading Iran to drop what the US and its allies contend is a drive toward developing and building nuclear weapons. It also perhaps would buy time for the US to persuade Israel not to launch a pre-emptive military strike on Iran this spring.

But it’s an extreme option in the banking world that would come with its own costs,oil prices could soar,even as many of the world’s economies are frail. In the financial world,the US can’t order SWIFT to kick Iran out. But it has leverage in that it can punish the organisation’s board of directors. Talks are focused now on having Europe make the first move.

‘Iran jeopardising world peace’
Asking the international community to draw a “red line” against Iran’s support to acts of terrorism,Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Wednesday accused Tehran of “jeopardising” world peace. “Iran is the biggest exporter of terror in the world. Iran’s terror operations are now exposed for all to see,” Netanyahu said during a Knesset (Israeli parliament) plenum,a day after a botched terror attack in Thailand,which Israel believe was meant to target its ambassador in Bangkok. PTI

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