- Arkansas voter ID law struck down by state judge
- FDA proposes ban on e-cigarette sales to minors
- Bad omen? Italian man crushed to death by John Paul II crucifix
- Company stopped from accepting abortion waste
- Girl surprises Michelle Obama with unemployed dad’s resume
- ‘Harry Potter’ religion class seeks to enlighten students on ‘God, sin, and theodicy’
- ‘Optionally piloted’ Black Hawk helicopter clears tests; future missions to go ‘fully unmanned’
- Vice News reporter kidnapped in Ukraine is freed after being beaten, blindfolded
- FCC’s new ‘net neutrality’ proposal sparks outrage among consumer advocates
- Families of ferry’s lost confront South Korean officials
Iran central banker: Lift sanctions or face spike in oil prices
Senator says U.S. policy should be to bankrupt Iran’s central bank
The head of Iran's central bank warned that oil prices will rise above $150 a barrel if economic sanctions against the Islamic theocracy are not lifted soon.
“Iran can have an effect on world energy and fuel. Fuel prices will go up dramatically,” Mahmoud Bahmani said in a recent interview with The Washington Times at a meeting of the International Monetary Fund in Washington.
“If sanctions are not removed, particularly sanctions against banks and other economic sanctions, the price of oil will go above $150 a barrel.”
A top Federal Reserve official and other economists predict that such a price could drive gasoline prices skyrocketing and throw the U.S. and Europe into another recession. The last time oil came close to that price was in the global recession that began in 2008, when a barrel of crude hit more than $147 in July of that year.
Mr. Bahmani’s veiled threat prompted a leading Republican senator to compare the country’s central bank officials to “bankers to the Nazis.”
“It should be the policy of the United States to bankrupt the central bank of Iran,” said Sen. Mark Kirk of Illinois.
Mr. Kirk — a member of the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs subcommittee on security, international trade and finance — said he is urging the Obama administration to investigate the bank’s suspected links to “terrorism and human rights abuses.”
Iran's central bank is the “21st-century equivalent of the bankers to the Nazis,” said Mr. Kirk, who earlier served five terms in the House as a member of the Appropriations subcommittee on homeland security.
Iran is the world’s third-leading oil exporter, but it lacks the capacity to refine crude petroleum into gasoline. It is a member of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, a cartel that sets production limits for most oil exporters. The country also has the world’s second-largest known reserves of natural gas.
Congress last year passed the Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability and Divestment Act, a law that slapped severe sanctions on companies that aid Iran’s petroleum sector.
The legislation came after a fourth round of U.N. Security Council sanctions and was followed by the European Union’s own supplementary sanctions package. Last week, the EU imposed an asset-freeze and travel ban on 32 Iranian officials accused of severe human rights abuses.
The U.S. Treasury Department also sought to isolate Iran’s banking sector from the international economy. It cited major Iranian banks, like Bank Melli, for supporting terrorism and aiding the country’s nuclear program, although Iran's central bank has escaped sanction.
Mr. Bahmani dismissed U.S. threats of designating the Iranian central bank as a financier of terrorism.
“Iran has the highest standards in fighting money laundering and terrorism,” he said.
But the Financial Action Task Force, an international watchdog group, last year ranked Iran at the top of a list of nations financing terrorism and laundering money.
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
Ben Birnbaum is a reporter covering foreign affairs for The Washington Times. Prior to joining The Times, Birnbaum worked as a reporter-researcher at the New Republic. A Boston-area native, he graduated magna cum laude from Cornell University with a degree in government and psychology. He won multiple collegiate journalism awards for his articles and columns in the Cornell Daily Sun.
TWT Video Picks
By Tammy Bruce
Only IRS employees could expect rewards for failing to pay their taxes
- Holder cancels appearance in OKC amid angry protests
- 'Top Gun' for drones: Squadrons of carrier-based killers have Navy's approval
- In its hunt for Senate, Republican candidates campaign against Harry Reid
- America is an oligarchy, not a democracy or republic, university study finds
- Obamacare class-action suit opens a new legal front
- Sold out: Ukraine's leadership swapped best military weapons for cash
- Justice at last: 'Evil woman' outed for grabbing girl's game ball
- Gun control supporters send message to NRA
- Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy hailed as patriot, ripped as lawless deadbeat
- Nevada rancher's racial remarks cost him range of support
Top 10 handguns in the U.S.
Celebrity deaths in 2014