A handout image from the Iran International Photo Agency shows a view of the reactor building at the Bushehr nuclear power plant. Photo: IIPA via Getty Images

The U.S. Treasury on Thursday imposed a sweeping set of sanctions on 18 major Iranian banks in a move that could blow apart the international remnants of the country's 2015 nuclear deal.

Why it matters: "The move all but severs Iran from the global financial system, slashing the few remaining legal links it has and making it more dependent on informal or illicit trade," per Bloomberg.

  • "Some believe that Thursday’s action could destroy any chance of salvaging the accord by making it impossible for Iranian banks to have any relationships with their foreign counterparts," writes the AP.
  • The Treasury said in a statement that the sanctions "deny the Iranian government financial resources that may be used to fund and support its nuclear program, missile development, terrorism and terrorist proxy networks, and malign regional influence."

Flashback: The Trump administration reimposed sanctions against Iran last month as part of its "maximum pressure" campaign against the country. It said the sanctions were intended reinforce a 2007 UN arms embargo set to expire this month.

What they're saying: "Today’s action to identify the financial sector and sanction eighteen major Iranian banks reflects our commitment to stop illicit access to U.S. dollars," said Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin.

  • "Our sanctions programs will continue until Iran stops its support of terrorist activities and ends its nuclear programs. Today’s actions will continue to allow for humanitarian transactions to support the Iranian people."

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