Iran’s media reported on Thursday that four more of the country’s banks have been reconnected to SWIFT, the global provider of secure financial messaging services.
The banks are all the foreign branches of key Iranian banks. They include the Yerevan branch of Bank Mellat, the Dushanbe branch of Tejarat Bank and the branches of Bank Melli Iran in Baku and Baghdad.
The media quoted Hamid Baeidinejad, the director general for political and international security affairs at Iran’s Foreign Ministry, as announcing that the banks can now handle a chain of overseas financial transactions.
Baeidinejad has emphasized that 26 Iranian banks have so far been reconnected to SWIFT after the removal of the economic sanctions against Iran in mid-January.
SWIFT – the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication – is used by nearly every bank around the world to send payment messages that lead to the transfer of money across international borders. It provides a wide range of service including transmitting letters of credit, payments and securities transactions among 9,700 banks in 209 countries.
However, it became off limits to Iranian banks in 2012 after the implementation of the US-led sanctions against the country. Accordingly, around 30 Iranian banks were blocked from using SWIFT services, literally cutting off Iran from the global banking system.
In mid-January, the economic sanctions against Iran were lifted after a nuclear deal that the country had sealed last year with the P5+1 group of countries – the five permanent members of the Security Council plus Germany – was implemented.
A central theme of the sanctions was putting restrictions on Iran’s banking transactions with the international financial institutions through various mechanisms including closing SWIFT services to the country.