You might not be aware of it, because (nearly) every news organization in the world seems to think that it isn’t news, but talks between Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency have broken down once again. The talks, held in Vienna on May 15, ended with no breakthroughs. There is no date set for a resumption of talks.
Why the international community is even bothering with the talks is something of a mystery. With Iran’s chief negotiator Saeed Jalili running for President, the chances of him being willing to concede anything meaningful is essentially zero. Not that another non-candidate negotiator would make much of a difference.
This hasn’t stopped the US Congress from keeping up the pressure. Radio Free Europe Reports:
The meetings come as the Obama administration says it is looking at new ways to pressure Iran over its nuclear program.
Addressing the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in Washington on May 15, Treasury Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence David Cohen indicated that Washington would “work to target additional sources of Iranian revenue including the petrochemical sector.”
“With our colleagues at [the] State [Department], we will maintain a robust outreach effort to foreign governments and the private sector to explain our sanctions, to warn of the risks of doing business with Iran, and to encourage them to take complimentary steps,” he said.
“We will continue to aggressively implement and target Iran’s proliferation networks, support for terrorism, sanctions evasion, abuse of human rights and complicit financial institutions, and we will continue to work closely with [the U.S.] Congress in each and every one of these endeavors because we know that we share a common objective — ensuring that Iran does not obtain a nuclear weapon.”
Meanwhile, the United States has blacklisted two financial firms based in the United Arab Emirates for dealing with an Iranian bank blacklisted by Washington.
The Treasury Department said May 15 that Al Hilal Exchange and Al Fida International General Trading had provided financial services to Bank Mellat.
The decision means U.S. citizens and companies are barred from dealing with the two firms.
Any assets held by those companies in the United States are now blocked.