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Former Israel Official: Sanction Iran's Top Bank

Wednesday, 22 Sep 2010 | 4:52 PM ET

United Nations sanctions designed to slow Iran's nuclear program have a chance to work only if Iran's largest bank, the Central Bank of Iran, is directly targeted by the international financial community, Israel's former ambassador to the UN says.

United Nations, New York city
Bill Losh | Taxi | Getty Images
United Nations, New York city

Gabriela Shalev officially left her post as UN Ambassador last week and has been replaced by Israel's former top diplomat in Colombia, Reuven Meiron.

At a briefing Wednesday, Shalev said, "I hope there will finally be sanctions against Iran's largest and most important bank."

"This will really do harm to Iran's Revolutionary Guard and that's what's needed if the world is serious about stopping Iran's progress on the nuclear front," she added.

So far the Central Bank of Iran has escaped punishment.

China and Russia have been at the forefront of diluting sanctions against the theocratic state. But even Western nations have been reluctant to target the Central Bank of Iran for fear that it would completely isolate the Iranian economy.

But the U.S., Britain and France are now reportedly considering changing course as they meet in New York for the United Nations General Assembly.

The Central Bank of Iran has been accused by officials in the West of aiding transactions between blacklisted Iranian banks and international clients by settling accounts for them, and then transferring payments behind the scenes.

Western nations are now arguing that leaving the Central Bank of Iran unfettered allows for a gaping hole in the sanctions effort.

China and Russia have growing financial interests in Iran, especially in Iran's rich energy sector. Despite the sanctions, many countries—including China and Russia—have actually increased trade with Iran.

"In part, the United Nations is about hypocrisy," Shalev said.

Neither the Russian nor the Chinese UN delegations returned calls asking for a comment.

The United Nations Security Council has already passed four resolutions against Iran's growing nuclear program which some nations suspect is for military purposes. Sanctions against Iran's Central Bank would require a fifth United Nations Security Council resolution.

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