US Senate shows united support for blocking Iran access to euros

The US Senate has demonstrated strong support for blockingIran’s access to euros, as Congress continues to push for additional measures to choke funding toTehran’s nuclear programme.

The Senate unanimously passed a non-binding amendment to the budget plan on March 23 that seeks to stop Iran from using a loophole allowing it use the European Central Bank’s interbank payment system to gain access to euros.

The amendment, sponsored by Illinois Republican Mark Kirk and West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin, is symbolic, as the budget will not become law. It follows a letter signed last month and sent to the European Union by 36 senators, and could indicate the Senate would introduce legislation later on the issue.

Washington and the EU last year hitIranwith sanctions that slashed its crude exports by half. That led to inflation and pushed down the rial,Iran’s currency. Still,Iran’s government has access to vast foreign currency reserves, including supplies of euros, that senators say helps it stabilize the budget and circumvent the sanctions.

‘Closing the euro loophole in our sanctions policy is critical in our efforts to preventIranfrom acquiring a nuclear weapons capability,’ Kirk said. ‘The US Senate has spoken and now the European Union needs to act.’