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Russian Bank Blocks Iranian Accounts, Obama Takes Firm Nuclear Stance

Russia's second-largest bank, VTB, has closed Iranian accounts at short notice.

Russia's second-largest bank, VTB, has closed Iranian accounts at short notice.

Iran’s ambassador to Moscow has complained that a Russian state-controlled bank has shut down the accounts of Iranian Embassy personnel.

Seyed Mahmoud-Reza Sajjadi called the bank’s move a capitulation to Western sanctions against Iran. Sajjadi said VTB-24, the retail arm of Russia’s second-largest bank VTB, had ordered the shutdown at short notice.

Meanwhile, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Aleksandr Lukashevich said the embassy’s problems with bank accounts in Moscow might be a consequence of EU and U.S. sanctions.

The United States and the EU have tightened sanctions against Iran amid a dispute over Tehran's nuclear program, which the West fears will be used to manufacture nuclear weapons.

Washington passed a bill in December that would penalize financial institutions dealing with Iran's central bank.

Obama 'Not Bluffing' On Iran

Meanwhile, in related news, U.S. President Barack Obama has said he is not bluffing when he insists it is unacceptable for Iran to have nuclear weapons.

U.S. President Barack Obama

U.S. President Barack Obama

In remarks appearing in a U.S. magazine ahead of a visit to Washington on March 5 by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Obama said he won't advertise any plans for Iran, but "containment" is not an option.

He also told "The Atlantic" magazine that he cannot rule out military action.

Nonetheless, he warned that a bomb strike might result in strengthening Iran's regime rather than weakening it by allowing Tehran to portray itself as a victim.

Obama is reported to want Netanyahu to postpone any plans to attack Iran's nuclear facilities in the coming months.

With reporting by Reuters, AP AFP, Interfax