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June 5, 2018 3:37 pm

Top US Treasury Official: Iranian Regime Must Change Its Malign Behavior, or Face ‘Economic Calamity’

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Sigal Mandelker, the US Treasury Department’s under secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, speaks at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies in Washington, DC, June 5, 2018. Photo: Barney Breen-Portnoy.

The Trump administration is actively countering malign Iranian behavior, including financial malfeasance, across the globe, a top Treasury Department official said on Tuesday.

Speaking at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies think tank in Washington, DC, Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Sigal Mandelker emphasized that following President Donald Trump’s recent withdrawal from the July 2015 Iran nuclear deal, the Treasury Department has been using “all the tools at our disposal” to put “unprecedented financial pressure” on the Tehran regime.

“Our powerful economic authorities will give the regime a clear choice: change its unacceptable support for terrorism, destabilizing activities and human rights abuses, or face economic calamity,” Mandelker declared. “The impact of our sanctions will only grow more painful if the regime does not change course.”

“As we bring our massive economic pressure to bear on the regime, we will continue to shine a light on Iran’s destructive activities and target Iran’s efforts to deceive the international financial system, and violate the laws of our allies and partners,” she added.

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“The Iranian government,” Mandelker explained, “has demonstrated time and time again, including throughout the JCPOA, that it is a regime bent on supporting terrorism and promoting ruthless actors, destabilizing the region, and abusing the human rights of its own people. And to fund these illicit activities, Iran exploits the global financial system, as well as country after country around the world.”

She continued: “In Syria, for example, Iran and its Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) have funded Assad’s murderous campaign against his own people. Iran provides upwards of $700 million a year to Hezbollah, which continues to threaten our close ally Israel — including using rockets supplied by Iran to target Israeli neighborhoods. Iran has also used deception to obtain hard currency for the IRGC-Qods Force and front companies to conceal its procurement of parts for airlines ferrying Iranian terrorists to the battlefront in Syria. These efforts, often directed by senior level Iranian officials, constitute a deliberate pattern to deceive and exploit legitimate businesses, financial institutions, and governments.”

Companies doing business in Iran, Mandelker noted, “face substantial risks, and those risks are even greater as we reimpose nuclear-related sanctions. “

“We will hold those doing prohibited business in Iran to account,” she warned.

“To our allies and partners around the world, we ask that you add your voices to ours in condemning Iran’s deceptive, exploitive, and destructive practices,” Mandelker said. “We must work together to pressure Iran to make tangible, demonstrated, and sustained shifts in its policies. I know we share the same goals in countering the regime’s support for terrorism, missile proliferation, and brutality against its own people, in addition to keeping it from developing nuclear weapons.”

“The Iranian regime will deceive your companies, undermine the integrity of your financial systems, and put your institutions at risk of our powerful sanctions, all to fund terrorism, human rights abuses, and terrorist groups like Hezbollah, Hamas, and the Houthis,” Mandelker cautioned. “You must harden your financial networks, require your companies to do extra due diligence to keep them from being caught in Iran’s deceptive web, and make clear the very significant risks of doing business with companies and persons in Iran. You must be proactive in these efforts as Iran continues to search for ways to take advantage of your companies and countries.”

“To those in the private sector,” she went on to say, “I urge you to also take additional steps to ensure Iran and its proxies are not exploiting your companies to support their nefarious activities. You may think your clients and counterparties are legitimate companies. But they may in fact be part of the Iranian regime’s deceptive schemes to fund terrorism and human rights abuses. You must do more to make sure your compliance programs are airtight.”

“Iran is on a mission to deceive the international community in furtherance of its destructive goals,” Mandelker stated. “Enough is enough.  Everyone must open their eyes to the true nature of the Iranian regime.”

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