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Watchdog warns Iran could be blacklisted unless it acts against terrorism funding

Money. (Pictures of Money/Flickr)

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

A global financial watchdog has given Iran until February to crack down on terrorism funding or risk further sanctions on its struggling economy.

The Financial Action Task Force warned on October 19 that it would effectively blacklist Iran if it doesn’t fulfill 10 promises Tehran made to pass and enforce laws against financing terrorist groups.

Iran has long provided support to the Lebanese Hizballah militant group and Palestinian armed groups, which Western countries view as terrorist organizations.

Iran’s parliament approved some new measures against funding terrorism earlier this month under pressure to adopt international standards. But the task force said that it could only consider fully enacted legislation.

“We expect Iran to move swiftly to implement the commitments that it undertook at a high level so long ago,” said Marshall Billingslea, U.S. assistant treasury secretary for terrorist financing and chair of the global task force.

“In line with that, we expect that it will have adopted all of these measures by February. If by February 2019 Iran has not yet done so, then we will take further steps,” he said.

Billingslea said the task force for now has decided to continue suspending an earlier decision to blacklist Iran.

Blacklisting by the organization can result in limits or even bans on transactions with a country, greatly hindering global investment at a time when the United States has already moved to block foreign investment in Iran after pulling out of its 2015 nuclear deal with world powers.

Britain, France and Germany are trying to keep some financial channels open for Iran amid the U.S. push to reimpose sanctions, and have urged Tehran to comply with the task force’s demands.

Analysts say that missing the task force’s February deadline and being blacklisted could effectively nullify the European efforts on behalf of Iran.