WASHINGTON, Aug. 21 -- The office of Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., issued the following news release:
In response to reports that Iraqi entities are breaching sanctions on financial transactions with designated Iranian entities and with respect to Iranian petroleum exports, U.S. Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) today sent a letter to Iraq's Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to urge him to take steps to ensure that Iraqi entities are abiding by U.S. and international sanctions regimes designed to deliver a financial impact on Iran's nuclear weapons program.
"The recent sanctioning of Elaf Islamic Bank for knowingly facilitating significant transactions with Iran and providing significant financial services for designated Iranian banks that support Iran's proliferation activities is illustrative of the problem," Senator Menendez wrote. "Moreover, the sanctions appear to have been undermined by a lack of oversight by your government and by the Central Bank of Iraq, which has allowed Elaf Islamic Bank to continue participating in its daily auction to buy U.S. dollars."
"What is even more concerning is that Elaf Islamic Bank's activities do not constitute an isolated incident, but are, as the New York Times recently reported, "part of a network of financial institutions and oil-smuggling operations that...ha[ve] provided Iran with a crucial flow of dollars..." and which have knowingly allowed Iran access to international financial markets and needed hard-currency resources," he added.