US State official says Obama administration does not plan to allow Iran to access US financial system
A senior US State Department official on Tuesday reassured worried lawmakers that the Obama administration is not planning to allow Iran access to the US financial system or use of the US dollar for transactions.
"The rumors and news that have appeared in the press ... are not true," Thomas Shannon, the US undersecretary of state for political affairs, told a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing.
When Republican Senator Bob Corker, the committee's chairman, asked if such reports were "bogus," Shannon answered, "As of this moment, the answer is yes."
US lawmakers, mostly Republicans but also some of President Barack Obama's fellow Democrats, have expressed deep concern this month about reports that the Obama administration might allow Iran to use the dollar in some business transactions, although no such plans have been announced.
During the hearing, some lawmakers said they remained concerned, despite Shannon's strong denial of such reports, because of comments they see as ambiguous, such as his statement that the administration was open to discussing renewal of the Iran Sanctions Act if it does not conflict with the international nuclear agreement announced in July.
"You're like Exhibit A about why there is so much concern about this agreement," said Corker.
The Iran Sanctions Act legislation expires at the end of this year. Some lawmakers, particularly Republicans who strongly opposed the nuclear deal, have called for a renewal of the law months before it expires.
They say it would send a strong message to Iran that the United States condemns its continuing ballistic missile tests, human rights abuses and other actions contrary to US interests. Supporters of the deal say such action would risk undermining an agreement signed not just by Washington but also its international partners.
Shannon also told lawmakers the administration would use its veto power in the UN Security Council to block any sale of Russian Su-30 fighter aircraft to Iran.