As Iran continues its pursuit of a nuclear weapons capability, U.S. Senators Mark Kirk (R-IL) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), along with 34 other U.S. Senators, yesterday asked the European Union (EU) to close a significant loophole in US-EU sanctions against Iran by severing Iran's ability to access foreign held euros through the European Central Bank's (ECB) Target2 settlement platform. In their letter, the senators explain how Iran is able to circumvent current sanctions by using euro conversions to facilitate its imports, thereby freeing up funds to engage in illicit activities and further its goals to develop a nuclear weapon.
"We strongly urge you to take all necessary measures to immediately cut off Iran's ability to use its foreign-held euros by prohibiting direct or indirect access to Target2 services by or on behalf of accounts owned or controlled by the Government of Iran or its affiliates," the senators wrote. "Such an action would be consistent with the ECB's guidelines -- which explicitly prohibit access to Target2 for entities engaged in "money-laundering and the financing of terrorism, proliferation-sensitive nuclear activities and the development of nuclear weapons delivery systems" -- and would bring the EU into alignment with American policy vis-à-vis Iranian access to the dollar."
The Shaheen-Kirk letter was signed by a majority of the Senate Foreign Relations and Banking Committees, which have oversight over US-EU relations and Iran sanctions, respectively. Shaheen is former chair of the Foreign Relations Subcommittee on European Affairs. Kirk is a leading co-author of several pieces of recent Iran sanctions legislation and serves as the ranking member of the Banking Subcommittee on Security and International Trade and Finance.
The full list of signatories includes: Ayotte, Blunt, Boxer, Cardin, Casey, Collins, Coons, Cornyn, Crapo, Donnelly, Feinstein, Flake, Gillibrand, Graham, Hagan, Heitkamp, Heller, Johanns, Kirk, Manchin, Merkley, Moran, Murkowski, Murphy, Pryor, Reed, Risch, Rubio, Sessions, Schumer, Shaheen, Tester, Toomey, Vitter, Warren and Whitehouse.