Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz said Sunday that SWIFT's decision to halt Iran's ability to use its electronic fund transfer system to make international transfers constitutes a tremendous blow that could potentially lead to the collapse of the Iranian economy.
SWIFT is the world's largest electronic payment system and on Saturday implemented its decision to cut off 30 Iranian banks blacklisted by EU supported economic sanctions. By SWIFT's own admission, the move is "extraordinary" and "unprecedented."
Steinitz stated that the move makes receiving money for billion dollar oil transactions impossible.
The finance minister called SWIFT's decision "dramatic," but said he did not know if it would halt Iran's drive for nuclear weapons.
Iran may impose a blockade on oil exports that threaten the world’s economies as a reaction to new unprecedented sanctions, says its former intelligence minister Ali Fallahian.SWIFT’s decision is the harshest sanction placed on Iran in efforts to force the Islamic Republic to cooperate with United Nations nuclear inspectors and open up its nuclear facilities for surveillance to make sure it is not trying to build a nuclear weapon.The Western sanctions against companies dealing with Iran has not spread to China and India, but the SWIFT sanctions will make it harder for them to pay Iran, which has resorted to the barter system for some purchases.
He said that the West should not underestimate Iran’s ability to close the Strait of Hormuz, the shipping channel between Iran and Oman that carries almost all of Iran’s oil exports, which provides a large amount of the world’s oil.
Economists have said that closing the channel could result in doubling the price of oil and cause an international recession.
The US Navy has confirmed it is doubling the number of minesweepers in the Persian Gulf in an apparent move to prepare for a possible standoff with Iran over the crucial oil export route.An additional four minesweeper and four minesweeping helicopters will join the four ships already patrolling the Persian Gulf.The overall number of US minesweepers in the region will total eight, America’s head of naval operations Admiral Jonathan Greenert reported.While saying sanctions and political measures are preferable to respond to Iran’s controversial nuclear program, looks like the US is getting ready for plan B.
Former Intelligence Minister Ali Falahian, Iran’s senior spokesman on sanctions, said Sunday, March 18, that if the US and Europe think they can ignore international law to promote their interests, they should know that Iran will respond in kind everywhere it can. “I suggest that the West take seriously our threat to close the Strait of Hormuz,” he said in Tehran’s first response to the SWIFT decision to sever ties with Iranian banks to enforce European sanctions on its nuclear program.
Anticipating that Iran may kick back hard against the tough penalties building up against its nuclear program, three US aircraft carriers are standing by in the Persian Gulf – The USS Abraham Lincoln, the USS Carl Vinson and the USS Enterprise together with the FrenchCharles de Gaulle and their strike groups.
Thursday, US Navy Chief Adm. Jonathan Greenert said he was doubling the American minesweeping fleet in the Persian Gulf by adding another four vessels as well as mine-hunting helicopters to bolster Persian Gulf security and keep the Strait of Hormuz open to international traffic.
France, Britain, Holland and Germany have also deployed minesweepers in these strategic Gulf waters.
In its April cover story, Wired has an exclusive report on the NSA's Utah Data Center, which is a must read for anyone who believes any privacy is still a possibility in the United States: "A project of immense secrecy, it is the final piece in a complex puzzle assembled over the past decade. Its purpose: to intercept, decipher, analyze, and store vast swaths of the world’s communications as they zap down from satellites and zip through the underground and undersea cables of international, foreign, and domestic networks...
Flowing through its servers and routers and stored in near-bottomless databases will be all forms of communication, including the complete contents of private emails, cell phone calls, and Google searches, as well as all sorts of personal data trails—parking receipts, travel itineraries, bookstore purchases, and other digital “pocket litter.”...
The heavily fortified $2 billion center should be up and running in September 2013." In other words, in just over 1 year, virtually anything one communicates through any traceable medium, or any record of one's existence in the electronic medium, which these days is everything, will unofficially be property of the US government to deal with as it sees fit.
The codename of the project: Stellar Wind.As Wired says, "there is no doubt that it has transformed itself into the largest, most covert, and potentially most intrusive intelligence agency ever created."
And as former NSA operative William Binney who was a senior NSA crypto-mathematician, and is the basis for the Wired article (which we guess makes him merely the latest whistleblower to step up: is America suddenly experiencing an ethical revulsion?), and quit his job only after he realized that the NSA is now openly trampling the constitution, says as he holds his thumb and forefinger close together. "We are, like, that far from a turnkey totalitarian state."
Under construction by contractors with top-secret clearances, the blandly named Utah Data Center is being built for the National Security Agency. A project of immense secrecy, it is the final piece in a complex puzzle assembled over the past decade. Its purpose: to intercept, decipher, analyze, and store vast swaths of the world’s communications as they zap down from satellites and zip through the underground and undersea cables of international, foreign, and domestic networks.The heavily fortified $2 billion center should be up and running in September 2013. Flowing through its servers and routers and stored in near-bottomless databases will be all forms of communication, including the complete contents of private emails, cell phone calls, and Google searches, as well as all sorts of personal data trails—parking receipts, travel itineraries, bookstore purchases, and other digital “pocket litter.” It is, in some measure, the realization of the “total information awareness” program created during the first term of the Bush administration—an effort that was killed by Congress in 2003 after it caused an outcry over its potential for invading Americans’ privacy.In the process—and for the first time since Watergate and the other scandals of the Nixon administration—the NSA has turned its surveillance apparatus on the US and its citizens.It has created a supercomputer of almost unimaginable speed to look for patterns and unscramble codes. Finally, the agency has begun building a place to store all the trillions of words and thoughts and whispers captured in its electronic net. And, of course, it’s all being done in secret. To those on the inside, the old adage that NSA stands for Never Say Anything applies more than ever.
Wired reports that the data center will store trillions of “words and thoughts and whispers” swirling on the Web. It states that “[to] those on the inside, the old adage that NSA stands for Never Say Anything applies more than ever.” In addition to public website data storage, Wired reports that it will seek out and house information on the “deep web:”Wired also includes a former NSA official going on the record for the first time on the secret, domestic spying program Stellar Wind and its role in data communication collection, which when the Bluffdale facility is complete will be stored there. Former senior NSA “crypto-matematician” William Binney, who helped develop NSA’s spying capabilities before leaving in 2001, explains how the NSA deliberately violated the Constitution, which was the reason why he left, in setting up warrentless wiretapping to the extent that they did. Wired reports that much of NSA’s wiretapping practices now were made legal under the FISA Amendments Act of 2008: