Increased pressure on Iran could lead to nuclear nonproliferation

A strategy that increases financial pressure on Iran while offering the country a way out could contribute to Iran's cooperation with international obligations for nonproliferation, a high-ranking Treasury Department official said on Wednesday.

David Cohen, the undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, testified before the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations on the Treasury Department's application of sanctions to pressure Iran's nuclear and ballistic missile program. Since Cohen's last testimony before the committee, the department designated Iranian banks and their financial partners, targeted the Central Bank of Iran and Iran's oil revenues, locked up Iran's oil revenues, tightened sanctions through executive orders and expanded energy, shipping and shipbuilding sanctions.

"Since my last appearance before this committee, the scope, intensity, and impact of U.S. sanctions on Iran have expanded through the enactment of legislation, the adoption of executive orders, and the energetic implementation and enforcement of the entire sanctions framework," Cohen said. "These efforts have heightened the economic pressure and imposed a very significant strain on the Iranian regime."

Cohen cited successful impacts of the sanctions in the petroleum sector, shipping sector and general economic impacts. He said the next steps in encouraging Iran's nonproliferation would be increasing Iran's isolation, targeting additional sources of revenue, engaging further with international partners and aggressively enforcing sanctions.

Cohen said that the U.S. and its international partners will continue to apply increasingly powerful and complex sanctions on Iran if it does not fulfill its obligations related to its nuclear program.

"As we have repeatedly made clear, Tehran faces a choice: it can address the call of the international community to give up its nuclear ambitions and begin reintegrating itself diplomatically, economically and financially into the world community, or it can continue down its current path and face ever- growing isolation," Cohen said.