x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 17 January 2018

US 'tightening the noose' on Iran

Pressure on Iran was further increased by the International Atomic Energy Agency.

DAVOS, SWITZERLAND // America is "tightening the noose" on Iran over nuclear technology, and believes it will get the support of China in its latest intensification of the sanctions war, the US treasury secretary said.

Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Tim Geithner, told leading policy makers and business executives yesterday: "I believe there will be a further tightening, we've seen that in recent weeks with the financial and oil sanctions. I'm sure China wants to be part of that."

Mr Geithner's comments represent an escalation of the campaign to persuade Iran to abandon development of nuclear capability, which the US has said would be used for military purposes.

Iran insists its nuclear programme is for peaceful civil purposes.

The pressure on Iran was further increased by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Its director general, Yukiya Amano, told another Davos meeting that IAEA inspectors were unsure whether the Iranian authorities had declared the full extent of the country's atomic work.

An IAEA team of inspectors was expected arrive in Iran tomorrow and stay until Tuesday.

Mr Geithner underlined the new tough stance by saying the Iranian nuclear programme was one of the two most serious threats to the US economy, along with the Eurozone crisis.

More international sanctions could follow. "We're still on the point of the next wave of sanctions. We're trying to deter them from their nuclear ambitions. It's important for strategic security in the region and for the security of energy supplies," Mr Geithner said.

A Chinese official at Davos agreed the Iranian nuclear issue was becoming acute. Li Daokui, the director general of a Beijing trade organisation, said: "For China, the top risk is from Iran and the oil price. If oil goes to $150, the free market in energy could break down, and we could see rationing and food shortages."