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An important cog in the global financial system has succumbed to pressure from the Trump administration and the breakdown of relations with Iranian banks.

The Belgian company Swift, whose messaging service connects more than 11,000 financial institutions, said the connection to the Iranian banks was severed after the United States announced Monday sanctions against 50 of the country's financial companies.

The service refused if it cut off all targeted banks. But on Friday, Steven Mnuchin, the finance minister, said Swift has to cut every Iranian bank off the list.

Large international banks were particularly suspicious in Iran. In the last decade the United States beat several bank giants with harsh penalties for helping clients face American sanctions against Iran.

With American banks unable to do business with Iran and large European banks choosing to stay out of the country, Iran's banks were already cut off from most of the global financial system before Swift's decision. As a result, Swift's withdrawal could cause a smaller blow than some would expect, some sanction specialists said.

"The impact will not be as big as it was before, because it's already isolated, but it will be more difficult for them," said Katherine Bauer, a scholarship holder at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

Swift cut off Iranian banks when the Obama administration imposed sanctions on the country in 2012. At that time, the European Union had also introduced rules in support of sanctions, and as a unit within the bloc jurisdiction, Swift had no legal choice but to secede.

Although Western banks have largely withdrawn from Iran, advocates of tough action against the Iranian government have urged Swift to renounce relations, and fear that Iranian leaders could bypass it in order to circumvent US sanctions. However, they claimed that the approach would only be effective if Swift slowed down the relationships with all the entities listed on the list.

"If Swift shuts down all the selected banks, it really is a tougher policy," said Richard Goldberg, a senior adviser to the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a group that supports sanctions against Iran. "If Swift does not, this is a weaker policy with a better spin


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