The AP reported that the European Union is working on regulations that would shut out Iran’s banks from the financial clearinghouse SWIFT, which is used by virtually every country in the world.

The move is part of an unprecedented escalation of economic pressure by the United States and the EU meant to halt Iran’s suspected drive for nuclear weapons.

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The Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication, or SWIFT, said last week it would comply with EU instructions to cut off the Iranian banks once it has clarity on what new rules will require.

The Brussels-based SWIFT, which handles cross-border payments for more than 10,000 financial institutions and corporations in 210 countries, must comply with EU regulations because it is a European entity. The group is an essential way station for international transactions, electronically converting currencies and processing payments such as those for Iran’s crude oil exports.

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