Iranian foreign minister: I won't shake Condi's dirty feminine hand

It would be un-Islamic.

Mottaki: The meeting in Baghdad [with the United States] was worthwhile. Our exchange was very constructive and productive. No one spoke badly about the other. We are prepared to forget the mistakes of the past. We should turn to the future, especially in the case of Iraq.

SPIEGEL: Does this mean that you will meet with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and that you plan to shake hands with the Americans?

Mottaki: As a devout Muslim, I adhere to our Islamic principles and will certainly not shake hands with Ms. Rice.

Actually, he’s got good reason to hate Condi. She’s finally doing the sort of thing to Iran that we hoped she would when she became SoS — as the Donald might say, she’s makin’ deeealz.

More than 40 major international banks and financial institutions have either cut off or cut back business with the Iranian government or private sector as a result of a quiet campaign launched by the Treasury and State departments last September, according to Treasury and State officials.

The financial squeeze has seriously crimped Tehran’s ability to finance petroleum industry projects and to pay for imports. It has also limited Iran’s use of the international financial system to help fund allies and extremist militias in the Middle East, say U.S. officials and economists who track Iran.

The U.S. campaign, developed by Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson Jr. and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, emerged in part over U.S. frustration with the small incremental steps the U.N. Security Council was willing to take to contain the Islamic republic’s nuclear program and support for extremism, U.S. officials say…

The new campaign particularly targets financial transactions involving the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, which is now a major economic force beyond its long-standing role in procuring arms and military materiel…

Iranian importers are particularly feeling the pinch, with many having to pay for commodities in advance when a year ago they could rely on a revolving line of credit, said Patrick Clawson, a former World Bank official now at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. The scope of Iran’s vulnerability has been a surprise to U.S. officials, he added

Ahmadinejad’s rhetoric — from denying the Holocaust to comparing Iran’s stock exchange to gambling — has helped, experts say. “There is very little foreign investment in Iran not because of sanctions, but because of the atmosphere created by Ahmadinejad’s crazy statements,” said Jahangir Amuzegar, former Iranian finance minister and executive director of the International Monetary Fund.

Exit question: Should we expect Iran to pour less money into terrorism now? Or more?