Remarks by Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner on Targeting Iran's Nuclear and Missile Programs

November 21, 2011

Weapon Program: 

  • Nuclear
  • Missile

As Prepared for Delivery

Thank you, Secretary Clinton.

I want to thank you, and I want to commend my colleague at Treasury, David Cohen, and his counterparts here at the State Department for working so hard to put together today's very significant financial actions.

Since President Obama came into office, this administration has put in place an aggressive strategy to stop Iran's illicit activities. A key part of this strategy has been to impose overwhelming financial pressure on Iran.

Because of this strategy, Iran has been subjected to new and damaging levels of financial and commercial isolation.

First, we have dramatically reduced Iran's access to the international financial system. Iranian banks are losing the ability to do business around the world, which in turn has reduced the ability of the Iranian government to finance activities opposed by the international community.

Second, Iran's national shipping line - which has transported material in support of Iran's missile program - is now shut off from many of the world's major ports and routinely finds its ships seized or turned away.

And third, Iran's primary source of revenue - its oil sector - is in decline, because it cannot attract the foreign investment that it desperately needs to maintain production.

Together, the intensification of sanctions by this Administration, alongside our partners around the world, has inflicted substantial damage to the Iranian economy.

To continue these efforts, the Treasury Department today is designating additional entities for their support of Iran's nuclear and proliferation-related activities.

Today we are also taking the next significant step to escalate the pressure by acting under Section 311 of the USA PATRIOT Act. For the first time, we are identifying the entire Iranian banking sector - including the Central Bank of Iran - as a threat to governments or financial institutions that do business with Iranian banks.

If you are a financial institution and you engage in any transaction involving Iran's Central Bank or any other Iranian bank operating inside or outside Iran, you are at risk of supporting Iran's illicit activities: its pursuit of nuclear weapons, its support for terrorism, and its efforts to deceive responsible financial institutions and evade sanctions.

Any and every financial transaction with Iran poses grave risk of supporting those activities.

Financial institutions around the world should think hard about the risks of doing business with Iran.

We are taking this latest action alongside our partners in the United Kingdom and Canada, who announced earlier today that they have implemented similar measures to insulate their banks from Iran. As a result of this coordinated effort, Iran is now cut off from three of the world's largest financial sectors.

We encourage other leaders around the world to take forceful steps - like the action we are announcing today - to prevent Iran from simply shifting financial activity to banks within their nations.

As we put these new measures in place, and as we continue to work to expand their reach around the world, we will continue to explore other measures. No option is off the table-including the possibility of imposing additional sanctions on the Central Bank of Iran.

The policies Iran is pursuing are unacceptable. Until Iran's leadership agrees to abandon this dangerous course, we will continue to use tough and innovative means to impose severe economic and financial consequences on Iran's leadership.

Thank you.