By Alexander Cornwell
DUBAI, Dec 9 (Reuters) – The Biden administration is moving to tighten enforcement of sanctions against Iran with the despatch of a senior delegation to the United Arab Emirates next week, the U.S. State Department said on Thursday.
The delegation, which will include the head of the U.S. Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, Andrea Gacki, will warn banks in the UAE that have business with Iran and are not in compliance with the sanctions.
A State Department spokesperson said the United States had evidence of non-compliance, and that the banks could later be sanctioned or penalised over their dealings.
UAE authorities did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Then-president Donald Trump in 2018 pulled the United States out of a deal in which Iran agreed with major powers that it would curb its nuclear programme in return for the lifting of international economic sanctions.
He reimposed U.S. sanctions, prompting Iran to start violating the nuclear restrictions about a year later.
Talks are being held in Vienna on reviving the deal, but have shown little advance so far.
If there is no progress in these talks, the United States could send delegations to several other countries to tighten the economic pressure on Iran, the WSJ reported.
U.S. and Israeli defense chiefs were expected on Thursday to discuss possible military exercises to prepare for a worst-case scenario of destroying Iran‘s nuclear facilities if diplomacy fails, a senior U.S. official told Reuters.
The UAE, a U.S. ally, has been trying to reduce tensions, sending an official to Tehran last Monday.
Although the UAE and Iran are on different sides of the region’s strategic rivalries, their long-standing business ties have remained one of Iran‘s main links to the outside world.
Iran ranked fifth among the UAE’s trade partners by re-export value in the first nine months of this year, according to UAE trade data.
(Reporting by Alexander Cornwell and Davide Barbuscia in Dubai, Jahnavi Nidumolu in Bengaluru; Editing by Ghaida Ghantous and Kevin Liffey)