by the world's biggest electronic payment system to cut off Iranian banks blacklisted by the European Union constitutes a "major blow to the Iranian economy," Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz said Sunday.
The move is aimed at discouraging Iran
from developing nuclear weapons.
The minister said disconnecting Iran from SWIFT, which facilitates the bulk of global cross-border payments, will make it much more difficult for the Islamic Republic to export oil and import other products.
Being disconnected from SWIFT's messaging system would force Iran to accept only cash or gold, "and when we are dealing with billions this is impossible," said Steinitz.
Speaking before the weekly cabinet meeting, the finance minister said the move could lead to the collapse of Iran's economy. "Is it enough? I don’t know. Will it significantly weaken their resilience? This is, undoubtedly, a dramatic step," he stated.
Minister Yuli Edelstein said the government was pleased with SWIFT's decision and was certain it would hurt Iran's economy. "I hope it will result in a decision by the Iranian regime to halt its nuclear program,"
The US also welcomed the move, saying it was part of the growing sanctions on Iran and its global isolation.
White House Spokesman Jay Carney said Thursday that SWIFT's decision "is part of the process of isolating Iran and making clear to the Iranian leadership that there is a price to pay for their intransigence, their refusal to abide by their international obligations, their refusal to adequately reassure the international community that its nuclear intentions are peaceful and non-weapon-related," he said.
Reuters contributed to the report
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