Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon and US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin agreed to set up a joint team for the enforcement of economic sanctions against Iran during their meeting in Washington on Tuesday.
Kahlon said that "the sanctions on Iran contribute to removing a threat to Israel's security and to the security of the entire free world."
Most of the meeting focused on the issue of Iran, concluding with the decision which pertains in particular to sanctions in the high-tech sector. Responsibility for economical sanctions rests with the ministries of finance of both countries. The joint ream will count with staff from both Israeli and US ministries.
This is the fourth time the finance minister and the US secretary have met in the past year.
In May, the US pulled out of the nuclear deal with Tehran in which sanctions were lifted. They were then reimposed reimposed upon US withdrawal. In addition to cutting off Iran from dollars and gold, the US sanctions enforced earlier this month 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.
Iran's president Hassan Rouhani was pressured on live TV on Tuesday for his promised economic gains, his government's corruption scandals and surging inflation.
"The economic sanctions led by the US on Iran are proving themselves [effective]," Kahlon said 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. 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."
A Treasury Department spokesperson 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.
Michael Wilner contributed to this report