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Sat. May 25th, 2024

US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen warned Tuesday of further sanctions targeting Iran following its unprecedented attack on Israel over the weekend, saying she expects Washington will take added action “in the coming days.”

“I fully expect that we will take additional sanctions action against Iran in the coming days,” she said as this week’s spring meetings of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank began in Washington.

The Treasury, Yellen said, will not hesitate to work with US allies to “use our sanctions authority to continue disrupting the Iranian regime’s malign and destabilizing activity.”

Months of war between Israel and Palestinian militant group Hamas in Gaza have triggered violence in the region involving Iranian proxies and allies who say they act in support of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.

But tensions have soared even higher with Tehran’s first direct assault on Israel, in retaliation for a deadly April 1 strike on Iran’s consulate in Damascus.

The attack has prompted appeals for de-escalation by world leaders fearing wider conflict.

Yellen told a press briefing that US authorities have been using economic tools to counter Iran’s activity, taking aim at its drone and missile programs, as well as its financing of groups like Hamas.

“From this weekend’s attack to the Houthi attacks in the Red Sea, Iran’s actions threaten the region’s stability and could cause economic spillovers,” she warned.

She stopped short of sharing details on possible sanctions while noting that Washington has been working to diminish Iran’s ability to export oil and there might be “more that we could do.”

Yellen also outlined US priorities during the spring meetings, including deepening ties with allies and partners, and engaging with China on issues like risks from excess industrial capacity.

Later Tuesday the Treasury chief convened a fourth meeting of the US-China financial and economic working groups, aimed in part at exchanging data to make headway on issues like excess industrial capacity.

Before the talks, Yellen said she looked forward to advancing collaboration with China on common goals and addressing misunderstandings, while Chinese Vice Minister of Finance Liao Min said earlier talks had been “candid and constructive.”

Russian assets

With Russia’s invasion of Ukraine entering a third year, Yellen added that the United States is furthering work with global partners to “unlock the economic value of immobilized Russian sovereign assets and ensure that Russia pays for the damage it has caused.”

She expects to have further conversations this week, noting that allies are eyeing at possibilities ranging from seizing assets to using them as collateral.

“We remain committed to standing as part of a global coalition to support Ukraine and constrict Russia’s ability to wage its brutal war,” she said.

Asked about possible Russia retaliation, Yellen said she expects there are ways of managing risks, especially if the Group of Seven countries act together.

She urged the US House of Representatives to give the green light to further support for Ukraine, adding that the United States has in recent times unveiled sanctions targeting Russia as well since the war.

Looking ahead, Washington will also be pushing for “strong IMF programs that incorporate robust policy conditionality to enable countries to restore stability and exit from IMF lending,” Yellen said.

She also stressed the need for “decisive and coordinated action” on issues like climate change.

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