Avi Jorisch – unimpressed with US, Israeli financial efforts against Iran
WASHINGTON - The United States and Israel have failed to take advantage of financial means to curb Iran's nuclear aspirations, a former senior US Treasury official said.
In an interview with Ynet on the occasion of the publication of his new book, Tainted Money, Avi Jorisch argued that the time has come to declare a financial war against the Islamic Republic in order to hinder its nuclear efforts.
The US and Israel have not yet formulated a decisive policy to curb Iran, Jorisch told Ynet, arguing that the Iranians have clear goals and are advancing towards them, while the West responds vaguely.
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"They play chess, while the US and Israel are playing backgammon," he said.
In a Wall Street Journal article published last week, Jorisch revealed for the first time an amazing fact: Iran utilizes the United Nations offices in Tehran in order to circumvent American sanctions and trade products worth billions of dollars.
Iran is using a "financial mechanism reminiscent of the Oil For Food scam," he wrote, noting that in 2008 alone Iran used the UN "to route over $13 billion overseas," while American banks funded these deals.
Tehran has been using The Asian Clearing Union (ACU), established in Iran in 1974 as a UN initiative to expand trade and forge closer banking relations among members, he said.
India, in particular, might be helping Iran in the process of circumventing US sanctions, he wrote wrote, noting that the two countries transacted roughly $12 billion in 2008 using the ACU mechanism.
Jorisch, a 35-year-old American Jew with some relatives in Israel, specialized in various forms of money laundering during his time with the US Treasury. He said that the only way to impose painful sanctions against Tehran would be to enlist the international community to the cause. However, he says this effort is almost doomed for failure in his view, as China will likely curb the imposition of sanctions through the UN Security Council.
In conversations with the Chinese, he says, he was reminded that Saudi Arabia continues to be America's largest oil supplier, despite the fact that most September 11 attackers were Saudi.
"They asked me: You did not stop buying oil from Saudi Arabia, so why do you expect us to stop doing business with Iran? The Iranians don't threaten us," he recounted.
Jorisch also doubts that Germany, which is the second-largest exporter to Iran behind China, would agree to give up this lucrative market.
"I heard Chancellor Angela Merkel declaring here in Washington, in the US Congress, that Germany will not allow Iran to go nuclear," he says in the fluent Hebrew he acquired during his four years at Hebrew University. "It's empty talk."
"Instead of making such declarations, Germany must stop doing business with Iran," he said.
Overall, Jorisch charges that not enough has been done to embark on a full-blown financial war against Iran.
"There are many things we can do it hurt the Iranians," he said. "The time has come to get serious."