December 1st, 2011
07:24 PM ET

U.S. at odds over Iran's central bank

The Obama administration could consider supporting further action targeting Iran's central bank, officials from the U.S. State Department and Treasury told a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing.   However, as Barbara Starr reports, the officials cautioned about the risk of doing so.

The discussion comes as the European Union moved to impose new sanctions on Iran after the attack this week on British embassy buildings.

The U.S. Senate could vote as soon as Thursday on a bill by Democratic Sen. Robert Menendez of New Jersey and Republican Sen. Mark Kirk of Illinois that would cut off Iran from global finance by freezing U.S.-assets of any institution that does business with Iran's central bank.

The Obama administration opposes the measure because of its possible impact on the oil supply and, ultimately, the U.S. and international economy.

"There is absolutely a risk that in fact the price of oil would go up, which would mean that Iran would in fact have more money to fuel its nuclear ambitions, not less," said Wendy Sherman, the State Department's undersecretary for political affairs.

Sherman said that the administration does agree with the "impulse, the sentiment, the objective, which is really to go at the jugular of Iran's economy."

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