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Tightening the squeeze on Iran

Iranian women sit under a symbol of an atom during the unveiling ceremony of Iranian computer game "Special Operation 85" in Tehran July 16. The game sends a strong political message that mixes the standoff over its nuclear program, the mystery of missing Iranian diplomats in Lebanon and its hatred of Israel.

TEXT OF INTERVIEW

Scott Jagow: As you know, the U.S. wants Iran to give up its nuclear fuel program. One way the U.S. has been pressuring Iran is by getting banks to stop doing business with the Iranians. This morning, we have word that the last two European holdouts, two big German banks, have finally decided to go along and cut off financing to Iran. Our European correspondent Stephen Beard is here. Stephen, how big of a deal is this?

Stephen Beard: This is quite a blow to Iran. Deutsche Bank and Commerzbank this year have become by for the most important financial intermediaries in Europe for Iran.

Jagow: Yeah why did they wait so long? The U.S. and the E.U. have been trying to get these banks to stop doing business with Iran for quite some time.

Beard: It appears that the pressure has been too great. I mean the problem has been trying to ensure that they don't handle any Iranian cash that winds up funding terrorism or financing the Iranian government's nuclear fuel program and they've just decided that it's just too complicated and too difficult a process.

Jagow: So if the last holdout banks in Europe are now caving under this pressure, what is Iran gonna do for financing?

Beard: Well, The Wall Street Journal is speculating this morning that the decision by these two German banks could drive Iran closer to countries that are apparently more accommodating and less concerned about Iran's nuclear ambitions: China, Russia and Venezuela too. Now of course they lack major banks with strong global networks, but they do have access to a lot of American dollars from their oil revenue and probably could find other ways of doing business with Iran.

Jagow: OK Stephen Beard our correspondent in London, thank you.

Beard: OK Scott.

About the author

Stephen Beard is the European bureau chief and provides daily coverage of Europe’s business and economic developments for the entire Marketplace portfolio.
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