The U.S. Department of the Treasury has added Mohammad Mokhber, the president of the Execution of Imam Khomeini's Order, and Barkat Ventures, which developed the first homegrown vaccine for the coronavirus, to OFAC's Specially Designated Nationals (SDN) list.
The Islamic Republic has sought to boost the steel sector under its plan to increase non-oil revenues. It has succeeded in adding steel capacity which currently stands at 30 million tonnes a year. “Iran will reach a production capacity of more than 52 million tonnes of steel in the near future,” Minister of Mine, Industry and Trade Alireza Razm-Hosseini said in his meeting with Iraqi Trade Minister Alaa Ahmed al-Jubouri in Tehran Wednesday. The country aims to export 20 to 25 million tonnes of steel annually by 2025 when it expects to hit the vision target of 55 million tonnes. However, political and logistical hurdles are high and the sector has had to battle the headwinds of the most intensive US sanctions unleashed in May 2019 when Washington targeted Tehran’s export revenues from its industrial metals.
There is some indication that, even if US sanctions on Iran were lifted, the uptake for private sector engagement with Iran would remain slow and limited. A few weeks ago, Iranian president Hassan Rouhani reportedly requested that Iran’s Expediency Council reprise its review of legislation that would address the deficiencies in Iran’s financial crime legislation called out by the FATF, which may help address some private sector concerns. However, persistent challenges in relations between Iran and the US and E3 will continue to create uncertainty for businesses. On December 17, the European Parliament passed a resolution condemning Iran’s detention and execution of human rights defenders and prisoners of conscience and called for the application of targeted financial sanctions on the Iranian individuals responsible. A few days earlier, a European Union-funded virtual business conference was postponed following the execution in Iran of journalist Rouhollah Zam. Furthermore, some key US economic measures against Iran—for instance, sanctions on the Central Bank of Iran and on the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), as well as the designation of Iran as a jurisdiction of primary money laundering concern—are not related to Iran’s nuclear activities and may not be lifted as part of a return to the nuclear deal.
Venezuela and Iran, two nations which have been heavily targeted by US sanctions, have maintained their close cooperation in the fuel sector. Tehran has been sending ships to the South American nation to bring gasoline supplies or load them with Venezuelan crude for future exports. An Iranian-flagged ship made its way to the Venezuelan port of La Guaira this week, Reuters reported, citing vessel tracking data provided by Refinitiv Eikon analytical firm. The Golsan, a cargo ship which had reportedly entered port on Thursday, was spotted leaving Iran in November. However, it remains unclear what is on board the vessel, which is owned by Mosakhar Darya Shipping Co.
In a statement late Thursday Said Khatibzadeh said it was an advance delegation ahead of a visit Sunday by South Korean deputy foreign minister Choi Jong-Kun. The visit by the South Korean delegation "had been agreed before the seizure" of the Hankuk Chemi oil tanker, "and its main goal is to discuss ways of accessing Iranian funds in Korea", Khatibzadeh said. Iran's seizure of the tanker came after Tehran had urged Seoul to release billions of dollars of Iranian assets frozen in South Korea under US sanctions. Iran was a key oil supplier to resource-poor South Korea until Washington's rules blocked the purchases. Seoul has said that South Korea's deputy foreign minister would discuss the frozen assets during his three-day visit to Iran, and the trip would go ahead despite the seizure. According to Iranian government spokesman Ali Rabiei, Iran has "$7 billion of deposits in South Korea".
There are indications that Iran could be among the worst-affected countries in the world by the coronavirus pandemic and its associated problems.
Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has instructed the Expediency Council to revisit the principal components of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) Recommendations, in an apparent effort to pave the way for Iran to rejoin an international system of banking transactions from which it is currently excluded. The FATF is an intergovernmental organization founded in 1989 on the initiative of the G7 to develop policies to combat money laundering and terrorism financing. The two components are the Palermo Convention and Countering the Financing of Terrorism (CFT) and Anti-Money Laundering (AML). To restart its economy, Iran must be able to access the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT), a system used for banking transactions, which is only possible if the FATF removes the country from its blacklist.
US sanctions block Iran’s purchase of COVID-19 vaccine: CBI governor
By Press TV
December 7, 2020
In the 1920s, relations between the United States and Iran had reached a low point, marked by the failure of Arthur Millspaugh’s financial mission (1922-27), the murder of Vice Consul Robert Imbrie (1924), and the withdrawal of American financiers from a railroad syndicate (1928-29), among other imbroglios. According to historian James F. Goode, the American chargé d’affairs at the time, Hugh Millard, wrote to the US State Department’s Near East Bureau Chief, Wallace Murray, stating that there had been “one flub after another in American efforts in Persia” but that ‘‘archaeology is about the only thing [the United States] are likely to be interested in which stands much chance of bringing results.” Perhaps the situation today is not so unlike that of the early 1930s, when—despite the accumulated ill will of the previous decade—American interest in Iran’s heritage brought the two countries into more sustained diplomatic engagement with each other.
Regardless of all the difficulties, my sources pointed to several bright spots. To pick just one, the Persepolis Fortification Tablet Archive Return is seen as a model endeavor, and a prime example of how to both keep open and reinforce channels of communication between specialists and stakeholders, both Iranian and foreign. As one of my sources noted, the legal case that opened the door to the 2019 return—Rubin v. Islamic Republic—represents an odd confluence of forces, in which the United States government, the Islamic Republic, and an American institution were all on the same side. How often has this been the case in the general course of the relationship between our two countries over the past four decades? As I have documented in my historical research, despite the poor condition of our bilateral relations today, archaeology and cultural heritage were once seen by US State Department officials as among the best channels for establishing positive ties between the United States in Iran. My hope is that they may someday be so again.