The Treasury Department has announced new sanctions against a Malaysian Bank and a handful of other businesses, claiming they are involved in a “far-reaching plot” by the Iranian government to sell oil to other people.
The US has sought to prevent Iran from selling oil, except to a handful of nations hand-picked by the Obama Administration to receive waivers, and has sought to limit Iran’s ability to either get paid for that oil or to spend the money buying other things from other nations.
US efforts to keep Iran entirely off of the international banking market has led Iranian companies to return to a gold-based barter system, and even that has been severely restricted by US threats of further sanctions for anyone caught trading gold for oil.
Indeed, this effort to ban trading in gold in that it is trading at all was the centerpiece of the US proposal at the latest P5+1 meeting, in which Iran would give up materially its entire civilian nuclear program in return for US permission to engage in limited gold-based trading.
Treasury Under Secretary David S. Cohen termed Iran’s effort to sell oil for actual money as an essence mirroring “criminal money laundering techniques,” going on to brag that Iran was “not being terribly successful” in engaging in international commerce and promising ongoing US vigilance to prevent Iran from “abuse” of the global financial system.