By ANNE GEARAN and JULIE PACE, Associated Press
WASHINGTON (AP) — The United States and Europe are considering unprecedented punishment against Iran that could immediately cripple the country's financial lifeline.
The Obama administration wants to see Iran evicted from SWIFT, an independent financial clearinghouse that is crucial to Iran's overseas oil sales. The last-resort move suggests the U.S. and Europe are grasping for ways to show faster results in forcing Iran back to nuclear talks or in slowing what the West contends is work toward a nuclear bomb. Other economic sanctions so far have failed
But the penalty also could spike oil prices, hurt ordinary Iranians and undercut a respected international banking hub.
The U.S. can't order SWIFT to kick Iran out on its own. Talks are focused now on having Europe make the first move.