Iran is exporting hundreds of thousands of barrels of oil each day, violating American sanctions even as world powers negotiate to lift the economic penalties and revitalize a nuclear accord that was rendered all but defunct by the Trump administration. The oil exports have been rising over the past year, according to data and analysts who monitor a collection of monthly statistics and satellite images from around the world. Iran’s exports sharply increased last winter, the data show, after the November elections. That has raised questions about the effectiveness of American sanctions when they are imposed unilaterally, as they were during the Trump administration. And it suggests that Iran and its oil buyers may be betting that any penalties they may face are worth the risk as the Biden administration works to rejoin the nuclear deal that Mr. Trump jettisoned in May 2018.
2021-04-13Minister Sergey Lavrov’s statement and answers to media questions at a joint news conference following talks with Foreign Minist
Last month, we marked the 20th anniversary of signing the Treaty on the Basis for Mutual Relations and Principles of Cooperation between the Russian Federation and the Islamic Republic of Iran. The Treaty laid the foundation for bilateral interstate communications under the principles of international law and mutual respect. Our relations fully meet the high standards set forth in this extremely important document. We have noted the intensive nature of bilateral political dialogue, including at the highest level. We have agreed to continue implementing trade, economic, energy, agricultural, transport, industrial and nuclear-sector agreements, reached by our leaders. We have praised the close coordination between various agencies in key areas of the diverse Russian-Iranian partnership. We have positively assessed contacts between the secret services, military agencies, humanitarian institutions and overall human contacts. We have separately discussed expanding cooperation between the Eurasian Economic Union and Iran. In December 2020, it was decided to launch talks on signing a permanent free trade agreement that would replace the 2018 temporary agreement which is now being successfully implemented. We have agreed that full-fledged trade liberalisation will help boost mutual trade still further.
When now-retired Republican Sen. Bob Corker put a hold on U.S. arms sales to Saudi Arabia in 2017, White House trade advisor Peter Navarro drafted a memo titled “Trump Mideast arms sales deal in extreme jeopardy, job losses imminent.” The memo, along with the Trump administration’s subsequent decision to lift the hold, is often framed as cynical trade-off: Billions of dollars’ worth of U.S.-made military hardware were helping to sustain a humanitarian crisis in Yemen, but those same dollars could help support thousands of American jobs. Faced with the choice between workers at home and human rights abroad, the Trump administration appeared to have put “America first.” But bombs aren’t the only thing the American worker can build for the Middle East. Just as President Donald Trump was ramping up arms sales in the Gulf, he was also working to kill the Iran nuclear deal. A primary component of that deal was economic—as sanctions lifted, Western companies could help rebuild Iran’s aging civilian infrastructures by resuming trade and investment in Iran. One of the earliest contracts that Iran signed called for American aerospace manufacturer Boeing to build 110 jumbo jets—worth roughly $20 billion—to help revive Iran’s civilian air fleet. The estimated nearly 20,000 U.S. manufacturing jobs the civilian contract could have created was strikingly similar to number associated with the Saudi arms deal, yet it was terminated when Trump backed out of the Iran deal and reimposed sanctions.
The Biden administration has boxed itself into a maximalist position that jeopardises efforts to make the Iran sanctions programme more humane. European governments should be pushed to change course.
Sixteen countries, including Iran and China, have proposed forming a coalition to defend the UN Charter and counter unilateral sanctions and coercion. China, Russia, North Korea, Iran, and others are seeking support for a coalition to defend the United Nations Charter by pushing back against the use or threat of force and unilateral sanctions, according to a letter seen by Reuters on Thursday. […] Other founding members of the group are Algeria, Angola, Belarus, Bolivia, Cambodia, Cuba, Eritrea, Laos, Nicaragua, Saint Vincent, and the Grenadines, Syria, and Venezuela.
According to some reports China has developed a ‘blocking statute’ to subvert US sanctions imposed on Iran. This follows President Joe Biden’s stance, which amounts to enforcing the policies of the previous US President, Donald Trump, against Iran.
Media reports and sources have suggested that an Iraqi bank holding billions of dollars of Iranian funds has been allowed for the first time in years to process transactions involving the funds after gaining a waiver from US sanctions against Tehran. […] The issue of funds was also raised during a Saturday phone call between Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi, according to a report on the website of Rouhani’s office. Estimates suggest Iraq owes Iran $4-5 billion in unpaid dues over imports of natural gas and electricity. The two countries have negotiated on several occasions on how they can transfer the funds, including during a last week meeting between CBI and TBI chiefs in Tehran.
Wendy Sherman, US President Joe Biden's nominee for deputy secretary of state, has suggested that Washington should keep some sanctions on Iran - even if the United States returns to the multilateral nuclear deal.
According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Iran retains access to just $8.8 billion of readily available foreign currency, roughly one-tenth of its total reserves. Without access to its reserves held in countries like Iraq, South Korea, Japan, and Germany, the central bank has struggled to forestall the weakening of Iran’s currency, which is today worth less than one-fifth of its value prior to Trump’s withdrawal from the nuclear deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). This deep depreciation made imported goods more expensive, contributing to annual inflation rates of nearly 50 percent. […] In September 2019, the Trump administration designated Iran’s central bank under a terrorism authority, a move that jeopardized long-standing exemptions permitting the bank to play a crucial role in facilitating the purchase of humanitarian goods such as food and medicine. In February 2020, the U.S. Treasury Department issued a new general license to allay those concerns. But more troubling was the intention behind the terrorism designation, which was applied to Iran’s central bank for the express purpose of making it harder for a potential Democratic administration to lift sanctions on the bank in the future.
An Iranian government spokesperson on Tuesday said that South Korea will be releasing $1 billion in frozen assets as an “initial step” in resolving a dispute between the two countries. […] According to Rabiei, there is currently $7 billion to $10 billion worth of oil payments held in South Korea. Bloomberg reports that Rabiei linked the release of Iranian funds to the recent seizure of a South Korean oil tanker.