Washington, DC-- Treasury released the following statement by Secretary Henry M. Paulson, Jr. on Iran designations announced today:
"Iran exploits its global financial ties to pursue nuclear capabilities, develop ballistic missiles and fund terrorism. Today, we are taking additional steps to combat Iran's dangerous conduct and to engage financial institutions worldwide to make the most informed decisions about those with whom they choose to do business.
"The Iranian regime's ability to pursue nuclear and ballistic missile programs in defiance of UN Security Council Resolutions depends on its access to the international commercial and financial systems. Iran also funnels hundreds of millions of dollars each year through the international financial system to terrorists. Iran's banks aid this conduct, using a range of deceptive financial practices intended to evade even the most stringent risk-management controls. In dealing with Iran, it is nearly impossible to know one's customer and be assured that one is not unwittingly facilitating the regime's reckless conduct. The recent warning by the Financial Action Task Force, the world's premier standard-setting body for countering terrorist financing and money laundering, confirms the extraordinary risks that accompany doing business with Iran.
"We have been working closely and intensely with our international partners to prevent one of the world's most dangerous regimes from developing the world's most dangerous weapons. Part of that strategy involves denying supporters of Iran's illicit conduct access to the international financial system; these actors should find no safe haven in the reputable world of finance and commerce. The UN Security Council has required member states to freeze the assets of, and prohibit persons from doing business with, a number of entities and individuals supporting Iran's nuclear or ballistic missile activities, including Iran's state-owned Bank Sepah.
"Today, we are designating Iran's Bank Melli, Bank Mellat, and Bank Saderat. These are three of Iran's largest banks, and they all have facilitated Iran's proliferation activities or its support for terrorism. We are also designating the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps for proliferation activities and its Qods Force for providing material support to the Taliban and other terrorist organizations. The IRGC is so deeply entrenched in Iran's economy and commercial enterprises, it is increasingly likely that, if you are doing business with Iran, you are doing business with the IRGC. We call on responsible banks and companies around the world to terminate any business with Bank Melli, Bank Mellat, Bank Saderat, and all companies and entities of the IRGC.
"As awareness of Iran's deceptive behavior has grown, many banks around the world have decided as a matter of prudence and integrity that Iran's business is simply not worth the risk. It is plain and simple: reputable institutions do not want to be the bankers for this dangerous regime. We will continue to work with our international partners to prevent Iran from abusing the international financial system to advance its illicit conduct."