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The European Union has further tightened financial restrictions on Iran as part of the Western-led campaign to pressure the Islamic republic into halting work that could be directed toward a nuclear weapon.

The 27 EU member states agreed on March 15 to ban international SWIFT code bank tranfers and other financial transactions by hundreds of Iranian banks, firms and individuals blacklisted by the EU.

In a statement, the SWIFT service has confirmed it is cutting ties with the targeted Iranian banks.

SWIFT is seen as being crucial to Iran's ability to conduct international oil and financial transactions.

The EU has already imposed asset freezes and other restrictions on individuals and entities associated with Iran's nuclear activities, and is also imposing an oil embargo on Iran.

Iran's government denies seeking to build nuclear weapons.

EU Welcomes Move

Meanwhile, the United States has welcomed the decision by SWIFT to cut designated Iranian banks out of the financial transfer system.

U.S. Treasury Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence David S. Cohen said the decision on March 15 reflects “the growing international consensus” that “substantially increased pressure” is needed to convince Tehran to address the concerns about its nuclear activities.

Cohen added that Washington would continue to work closely with its allies to increase further pressure on Iran and strengthen the impact of sanctions.

With reporting by Reuters, AFP and AP