US sanctions Germany-based bank for Iran trade

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The United States on Tuesday announced sanctions against a German bank accused of handling "billions of dollars worth of transactions" for the Iranian government and of aiding its nuclear program.

The Treasury Department said the Hamburg-based Europaeisch-Iranische Handelsbank was a "key financial lifeline for Iran" that helped proliferate weapons of mass destruction.

The bank is accused of facilitating a series of transactions linked to Iranian weapons programs including a three million dollar transaction for Iran's missile program in league with the Export Development Bank of Iran.

The bank, also known as EIH, will now be banned from the US financial system and US banks will be banned from trading with it.

"EIH has acted as a key financial lifeline for Iran," said the Treasury Department's sanctions tsar Stuart Levey.

"As one of Iran's few remaining access points to the European financial system, EIH has facilitated a tremendous volume of transactions for Iranian banks previously designated for proliferation."

It is the latest round of US sanctions to target Iran's nuclear program, which Washington says is cover for building a nuclear bomb.

Iran says the program is for civilian purposes.

"The United States has closely consulted with the German government in taking today's action against EIH and is aware that the German government is also taking steps under its national authorities," the Treasury Department said.

© 2010 AFP

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