US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and his Israeli counterpart, Moshe Kahlon, have agreed to form a working group that will monitor and enhance sanctions enforcement against Iran, their offices said on Wednesday.
The launch of the new team will give Israel a direct advisory role over the enforcement of harsh American sanctions reimposed since US President Donald Trump withdrew from an international nuclear deal with Tehran last May.
Kahlon said that sanctions on Iran “contribute to removing a threat to Israel’s security and to the security of the entire free world.”
A Treasury Department official said its sanctions enforcers already maintain close ties with their Israeli counterparts.
“Treasury’s illicit finance team works closely with counterparts in Israel on efforts to counter the financing of terrorism, money laundering and other illicit finance schemes and sanctionable conduct emanating from Iran,” the official said, offering no additional details on the establishment of a new task force beyond Kahlon’s statements.
The two finance chiefs also discussed the potential for a regional economic summit in Geneva in the coming months, to which Arab powers and the Palestinians would be invited. Palestinian Authority officials have not yet commented on the idea.
Much of their sanctions discussion focused on Iran’s tech sector, according to Kahlon. Responsibility for economic sanctions rests with the ministries of finance of both countries.
This is the fourth time the finance minister and the US secretary have met in the past year.
“The economic sanctions led by the US on Iran are proving themselves [effective],” Kahlon said on Wednesday. “They contribute to the removal of the threat to Israel’s security and to the security of the entire free world, and this is why we should be thankful to the US.”
“My meeting with Finance Secretary Steven Mnuchin is intended to further our strategic economic ties with the US,” he said. “The joint team that we have established will be of great importance in tightening sanctions on Iran.”
Kahlon also addressed the new development in a tweet Wednesday morning, saying: “We are working with true friends in Washington, and together are looking after Israel’s security interests.”
In May, the US pulled out of an international nuclear deal with Tehran, which had traded curbs on Iran’s nuclear work for global sanctions relief on the Islamic Republic. Now that Trump has withdrawn from that deal, US sanctions are slowly being reimposed, beginning earlier this month with the Treasury Department cutting Iran off from access to dollars and gold. The sanctions also restrict Iran’s access to industrial metals and target the country’s automotive sector, its exports of carpets and its sale of pistachios.
Washington’s harshest sanctions will come back into effect on November 4, by which date the Trump administration hopes to decimate Iran’s oil export market. Protests have erupted in several cities in Iran over the return of sanctions and a spiraling rial currency.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani was pressured on live TV on Tuesday for his promised economic gains, his government’s corruption scandals and surging inflation.