The Senate Banking Committee unanimously appro­ved a new regimen of anti- Iran sanctions on Thursday that would for the first time threaten to punish the global financial telecommunications network that nearly all banks rely on to conduct their daily business.
The legislation’s banking provision, aimed at forcing the telecommunications network to expel Iranian banks that have already been blacklisted, would be financially catastrophic for Iran if carried out fully, according to proponents and sanctions experts. Expulsion from the network — the Society for Worl­dwide Interbank Financial Telec­ommunication, known as Swift — would deny to Iran many billions of dollars in revenue from abroad that is routinely routed into its domestic banking system.
Iran’s central bank is already subject to a particularly tough American measure, signed into law last month, that threatens to undermine the Iranian economy by penalising foreign banks and other companies that transact business with the central bank. But the Swift provision in new legislation, which some advocates of sanctions have described as a silver bullet, could be far more onerous.