• 2020-05-14

    On May 14, 2020, the U.S. Departments of State and Treasury, and the U.S. Coast Guard, issued an advisory​​ to provide those engaged or involved in trade in the maritime industry and energy and metals sectors with further information and tools to counter current and emerging trends related to illicit shipping and sanctions evasion.  

  • 2020-05-07

    Iran provides Iraq with around 1,200 megawatts of electricity per day, and 40 million cubic meters of gas. On Dec. 9, Iranian Energy Minister Reza Ardakanian said his country had signed a three-year cooperation agreement with Iraq for extending Iranian energy exports. On Nov. 9, Ardakanian had announced that the power grids of Iran and Syria were to be connected through Iraq, as Tehran and Damascus signed a preliminary agreement in this regard. From an Iranian perspective, exporting electricity to surrounding countries, including Turkey, is part of Tehran's efforts to widen its financial resources; however, from US President Donald Trump’s point of view, this is an attempt to get around the sanctions imposed by Washington under the “maximum pressure” strategy that aims at drying up all sources of funds that might reach Iran. 

  • 2020-04-18

    As a post-JCPOA implication, Iran has followed 4 transit initiatives in Central Asia including “Persian Railway Corridor”, “East Caspian Railway”, so-called “Ashgabat Agreement” and “Iran-Kazakhstan-China Corridor” more seriously.

  • 2020-04-14

    To be sure, Tehran has had much difficulty accessing its foreign exchange reserves for humanitarian trade because of U.S. restrictions on transactions with the Central Bank of Iran. Yet an IMF loan would have exactly zero impact on that issue. What does help on that front is Treasury’s quiet policy change in March to allow foreign transactions with the Central Bank for the purpose of countering coronavirus. Exporters are already leaping at this opportunity in South Korea, where Iran holds many billions of dollars in reserves; the policy change applies to other key reserve locations as well. Thus, anyone concerned about getting medical supplies to Iran should be focusing on these newly accessible reserves rather than IMF loans. In short, the IMF loan controversy will have no impact on the country’s ability to purchase humanitarian goods. It is inappropriate for news outlets, EU governments, or anyone else to claim that blocking the loan will impede Iran’s access to such goods. The real obstacle lies in Tehran’s failure to use the many resources it can already access.

  • 2020-04-06

    Even before COVID-19, Iran’s health system was feeling the effect of the sanctions.3 Their impact is now severe because they restrict the government’s ability to raise funds or to import essential goods. Of the ten countries with the highest number of recorded cases of COVID-19 to date, Iran is the poorest.2 In 2019, Iran had the lowest rate of economic growth (–9·5%) and highest rate of inflation (35·7%) recorded in the country for the past 20 years. This financial situation makes the funding of adequate prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of COVID-19 impossible, and the country cannot take the same measures adopted in other countries to strengthen responses, such as paying the full cost of obtaining treatment.3 Essential medicines and medical equipment are technically exempt from sanctions, but their availability is restricted by the effect of sanctions on the commercial sector, reducing manufacturing and trade capacity, and on foreign exchange. Consequently, although approximately 184 000 hospital and primary health-care staff are working to fight COVID-19, their efforts are thwarted by shortages of test kits, protective equipment, and ventilators. 

  • 2020-04-06

    Iran is the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak in the Middle East. The Islamic Republic’s leadership has engaged in a massive campaign aimed at lifting sanctions imposed on it for its malign activities, claiming sanctions hinder efforts to address the COVID-19 public health crisis. This memo, however, assesses that lifting sanctions would be ill-advised. The Iranian population suffering from COVID-19 deserves much needed medical assistance but that should be funded though reliable NGOs, bypassing the regime and not through the transfer of funds to the regime, which has ample financial resources estimated at over $300 billion for economic stimulus and humanitarian aid. 

  • 2020-04-05

    Iran is the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak in the Middle East. The Islamic Republic’s leadership has engaged in a massive campaign aimed at lifting sanctions imposed on it for its malign activities, claiming sanctions hinder efforts to address the COVID-19 public health crisis. This memo, however, assesses that lifting sanctions would be ill-advised. The Iranian population suffering from COVID-19 deserves much needed medical assistance but that should be funded though reliable NGOs, bypassing the regime and not through the transfer of funds to the regime, which has ample financial resources estimated at over $300 billion for economic stimulus and humanitarian aid. 

  • 2020-04-03

    Iran has been hit hard by the coronavirus, and US sanctions have hindered its access to drugs and medical equipment. That has led many US officials and foreign policy experts to implore the Trump administration to ease or temporarily lift sanctions. Despite what you may have read, Joe Biden is not one of them. Biden’s April 2 statement on Iran, coronavirus, and sanctions makes no mention of lifting or easing sanctions whatsoever. Instead, it merely asks the Trump administration to take a number of limited actions to clarify what is already true: US sanctions don’t apply to humanitarian goods like medical equipment or drugs. Biden’s specific requests include issuing licenses to pharmaceutical and medical device companies and giving clear guidance to aid organizations.

  • 2020-04-01

    The politicization of the coronavirus pandemic––and other crises––in the Islamic Republic is, of course, interwoven with campaigns for regime change. Lobbies like United Against Nuclear Iran, which have long pressed for ever tougher sanctions, have in recent months singled out pharmaceutical sales to the country, targeting the Western companies still trading with Iran. There was a chorus of indignation when Iran rejected the offer from Médecins sans frontières of a 50-bed field hospital, ignoring the fact that its co-founder, onetime French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, has for the past three years addressed and endorsed the so-called ‘Free Iran’ gatherings of the mek—the ‘People’s Mujahedin of Iran’, a cult dedicated to violent regime change which, following the fall of its previous patron Saddam Hussein is currently stationed in Albania. In viewing the covid-19 pandemic through the prism of international power politics, Western governments, political observers and media pundits have not only failed to comprehend the facts on the ground; they have missed opportunities to learn from Iran’s experience—both what the country got right in responding to the pandemic, and what it got wrong—that could have benefited their own populations, in a world that today is interdependent not only economically and culturally, but perhaps above all in matters of public health.

  • 2020-03-31

    Germany's foreign ministry said the three European countries “confirm that INSTEX has successfully concluded its first transaction, facilitating the export of medical goods from Europe to Iran.” “These goods are now in Iran,” it said in a statement that gave details neither of the goods nor of who was involved in the transaction, AP reported. “Now the first transaction is complete, INSTEX and its Iranian counterpart STFI will work on more transactions and enhancing the mechanism,” the German foreign ministry statement said. Britain, France and Germany conceived the complex barter-type system dubbed INSTEX, which aims to protect companies doing business with Iran from American sanctions, in January 2019. The move came months after President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew the United States from the nuclear deal that Tehran struck with world powers in 2015 and reimposed sanctions.

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