• 2021-02-25

    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. 

  • 2021-02-23

    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. 

  • 2021-02-21

    Unilateral sanctions imposed by the United States inflicted $1 trillion worth of damage on Iran’s economy and Tehran expects compensation, its foreign minister said. Mohammad Javad Zarif said on Sunday after the US takes action to restore Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal with world powers through lifting sanctions, Tehran will want to negotiate on the damages it has suffered. “When we meet, we will raise compensation,” Zarif told the Iranian state-owned news network PressTV in an hour-long interview. “Whether those compensations will take the form of reparation, or whether they take the form of investment, or whether they take the form of measures to prevent a repeat of what Trump did,” he said in reference to former US President Donald Trump. 

  • 2021-02-13

    The plane was carrying catalysts intended for the state oil company Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA), said the three people, who were speaking on the condition of anonymity, adding that over a dozen further similar flights are expected. Last year, Iran sent more than a dozen flights to help restart the 310,000 bpd Cardon refinery and alleviate acute gasoline shortages in Venezuela. It also dispatched three flotillas of vessels carrying fuel to the Latin American state.

  • 2021-02-12

    Since President Joe Biden was inaugurated on January 20, Iranian and U.S. officials have postured in public remarks over who should make the first move in returning to the Iran nuclear deal or the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. Underlying this debate, however, are questions of how each party can come back into compliance with the deal and what barriers stand in the way. Iran will need to reverse a number of steps it has taken in ramping up its nuclear program. The Biden administration, on the other hand, must contend with a series of sanctions and designations that were inherently designed to make returning to the JCPOA more difficult. Known as the “sanctions wall,” architects of the Trump administration’s Iran policy targeted entities subject to nuclear-related sanctions relief under the Obama administration with duplicative terrorism designations. They said this double layer could create a “sanctions wall of political and market deterrence” to undermine a future administration’s ability to ease or lift sanctions. But on closer examination, their efforts created less a “wall” than a transparent edifice built on political calculations. 

  • 2021-02-11

    Biden’s insistence on keeping US sanctions in place, which is itself a clear violation of the JCPOA, reveals that the new president has effectively adopted Trump’s “maximum pressure” strategy and that he intends to use this to his advantage vis-à-vis Iran. For Iran, therefore, Biden is already no different from Trump. Again, Biden the-candidate thought differently of the “maximum pressure” when he said that recent developments have “proven that Trump’s Iran policy is a dangerous failure. At the United Nations, Trump could not rally a single one of America’s closest allies to extend the UN arms embargo on Iran. Next, Trump tried to unilaterally reimpose UN sanctions on Iran, only to have virtually all the UN security council members unite to reject his gambit.” Biden the-President, however, thinks that it is not a good idea for the US to return to full compliance and that Iran, which never violated the deal even once before the US sanctions were imposed, must return to full compliance. There is, therefore, little gainsaying that such a position can be only taken with a view to un-necessarily complicating an already complicated enough a scenario. 

  • 2021-02-11

    The United States has sold more than a million barrels of Iranian fuel seized under its sanctions program last year, Reuters reported on Thursday, citing the US Department of Justice.

  • 2021-02-03

    The UN's top court ruled on Wednesday that it can take on Iran's bid to overturn US nuclear sanctions reimposed by the administration of former US president Donald Trump. Iran's foreign minister swiftly hailed the decision as a "victory" in the case launched three years ago at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague. Tehran alleges that Trump breached a 1955 friendship treaty between the two countries when he pulled out of a 2015 nuclear deal -- to the dismay of European allies -- and reactivated the sanctions. Washington had said the Hague-based ICJ did not have jurisdiction and must throw out the case. It also argued the sanctions were necessary because Iran posed a "grave threat" to international security. But judges at the court rejected all the US objections. International Court of Justice President Abdulqawi Ahmed Yusuf said the tribunal "finds consequently that it has jurisdiction.... to entertain the application filed by the Islamic Republic of Iran".

  • 2021-02-03

    The highest UN court for international disputes between states has ruled that it does have jurisdiction to hear a case brought by Iran challenging US sanctions against Tehran. On Wednesday, a panel of 16 judges ruled that the International Court of Justice (ICJ), also known as the World Court, has jurisdiction in the dispute. The case against the US was first brought to the ICJ in 2018 by Tehran, which accused Washington of breaching a 1955 friendship treaty between the two countries when the Trump administration imposed sanctions. The sanctions were imposed after then-President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew the US from the Iran nuclear deal, accusing Tehran of having breached its commitments to the international agreement despite UN watchdogs saying the country was compliant. 

  • 2021-01-20

    US foreign policy has long failed the environment along the Iran-Iraq border. American efforts to stabilize Iraq have countered its actions across the border in neighbouring Iran, which has centred around the use of coercive measures for decades. This polarization in US foreign policy has overlooked the environmental inextricability of the resource abundant Iran-Iraq border, inadvertently contributing to instability in the region.  Whilst Iran and Iraq are home to unique historic and cultural contexts, the social, economic, and environmental realities of these neighbouring states are much the same. Both countries are facing ongoing issues with water scarcity, the mismanagement of local resources, climate change and increased political dissent amongst locals. Due to the inseparability of Iran and Iraq’s environmental security, the environmental ramifications of stringent US sanctions against Iran are spilling into and exacerbating existing challenges in Iraq. The Biden administration now has an unprecedented opportunity to place climate policy at the forefront of American policymaking, both at home and abroad. This will necessitate a serious re-evaluation of US soft and hard policy tools that inadvertently undermine sustainable development. This is exemplified in this work through the examination of economic sanctions and their inadvertent environmental impacts, using Iran as an example. Results discuss how US sanctions policy has long overlooked environmental concerns. Recommendations are intended to guide future US foreign policymakers on methods to mitigate the potentially deleterious impacts of sanctions in a target state, minimize confrontations and promote sustainable development on an international level.

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