• 2020-10-26

    The Trump administration imposed sweeping economic sanctions against Iran’s oil sector on Monday as tensions between Washington and Tehran continue to escalate in the days leading up to the American presidential election.

  • 2020-10-11

    As a legal matter, the next U.S. president could remove sanctions on Iranian banks immediately, although there could be practical limitations, such as how quickly the bureaucracy updates regulations and documentation for compliance officers worldwide. But the president has wide-ranging authorities under the International Emergency Economic Powers Act to suspend or terminate the sanctions under which these designations were made. He could simply instruct the Treasury Department to terminate the designations. Politically, it may be more complicated. The terms of the designations do not identify any illicit conduct by these institutions, which makes it easier to argue for their termination. But it would be more controversial politically to remove sanctions on banks identified as facilitating terrorism, human rights violations, or the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. Trump’s “maximum pressure” strategy also has support outside the administration; any move to lift sanctions could face opposition and claims that lifting sanctions undermines the broader effort to contain Iran’s ability to conduct terrorism, repress its own population, or build up its military.

  • 2020-10-05

    A senior official with the Iranian Judiciary says the body is planning to prosecute 46 American natural and legal persons involved in the imposition of unjust sanctions on the Islamic Republic, which among other things, have prevented the country from importing medications necessary to treat patients with serious diseases. Speaking on the sidelines of a visit to a children’s hospital in Tehran on Monday, the head of the Iranian Judiciary’s High Council for Human Rights, Ali Baqeri-Kani, commented on the imposition of tough unilateral sanctions on Iran by the United States, which has prevented the country from buying essential medications, saying, “These enemies have spared no effort in this regard." “We are using all legal means, at domestic and international levels, to counteract these crimes and today, I announce that the names of 46 American natural and legal persons, who have been one way or another involved in imposing unjust and inhumane sanctions on the Iranian nation, have been given to Tehran prosecutor’s office” to prosecute them in accordance with a law on countering terrorist measures of the United States, he said. […]“

  • 2020-09-30

    The Trump administration is reportedly considering a new set of sanctions designations targeting 14 Iranian banks that are not currently subject to secondary sanctions. The new designations would be made under authorities associated with “terrorism, ballistic-missile development and human-rights abuses.” The targeting of these banks would cripple Iran’s already degraded channels for the importation of humanitarian goods—including food and medicine—at a time when the country is battling the COVID-19 pandemic. This new proposal, spearheaded by the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, long-time opponents of the 2015 nuclear deal, would be the latest and most extreme in a series of sanctions moves intended to deliberately undermined long-standing protections for humanitarian trade. Proponents of the proposal believe that it will be “possible to mitigate the humanitarian costs, chiefly through so-called comfort letters from the Treasury Department.” However, considering the precedent set by the Trump administration, there is no reason to believe that the humanitarian costs can be mitigated. In 2019, Iran imported over $1 billion of pharmaceutical products and over $3.5 billion in cereals. This trade is so sizable that no degree of licensing or special accommodations by the Treasury Department, nor any recourse to the still non-functional Swiss Humanitarian Trade Arrangement, will suffice to ensure that ordinary Iranians are not unduly impacted by the consequences of the move. In short, the Treasury Department lacks the means to designate these banks while ensuring that Iran’s imports of food and medicine remain routine and reliable.

  • 2020-09-29

    The first tanker of a three-vessel Iranian flotilla carrying much-needed fuel for Venezuela has entered waters of the South American country in clear defiance of sanctions imposed on both countries by the US. According to Refinitiv Eikon vessel tracking data, the Iran-flagged tanker Forest, which is transporting some 270,000 barrels of fuel loaded in the Middle East, entered Venezuela’s exclusive economic zone around 8:05 a.m. local time (1205 GMT) on Monday with no disturbances.

  • 2020-09-29

    Under the plan, the administration would blacklist roughly 14 banks in Iran that have so far escaped U.S. restrictions, under authorities designed to punish entities associated with terrorism, ballistic-missile development and human-rights abuses. The proposal is still under review and hasn’t been sent to President Donald Trump. Included in the list are Saman Bank and Middle East Bank, the two remaining lenders still able to import food and pharmaceuticals into Iran. Officials at the banks, and the Central Bank of Iran, weren’t immediately available for comment. Drug and medical supply companies in Iran are now weighing the possibility that the proposed new penalties would all but paralyze their work. That could leave companies increasingly dependent on a small network of informal money changers overseas who can execute financial transfers but who might also find themselves in Trump’s crosshairs under the new sanctions.

  • 2020-09-27

    The US has granted Iraq a 60-day extension to a sanctions waiver allowing it to import Iranian gas for its crippled power grids, an Iraqi official told AFP on Wednesday. Baghdad relies on gas and electricity imports from its neighbour Tehran to supply about a third of its electricity sector, worn down by years of conflict and poor maintenance. The US blacklisted Iran's energy industry in late 2018 but has since granted its ally Baghdad a series of temporary waivers to stave off country-wide blackouts.

  • 2020-09-24

    On September 19, the Trump administration formally reimposed U.N. sanctions on Iran that had been lifted as part of the 2015 nuclear deal. […] The Trump administration also threatened third-party sanctions, which would punish any U.N. member state that sold or provided Iran with conventional arms and materials for its missile and nuclear industries. […] In additional new sanctions against Iran, the Trump administration targeted 24 government organizations, companies, officials and suppliers connected to conventional arms, nuclear and missile program. On September 21, Pompeo, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, U.N. Ambassador Kelly Knight Craft and National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien spoke at a joint press conference.[…]

  • 2020-09-24

    On September 19, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that the United States had reimposed U.N. sanctions on Iran that had been lifted as part of the 2015 nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). The five other major powers that signed the original agreement – Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia – rejected the Trump administration’s decision to invoke so-called snapback sanctions.

  • 2020-09-19

    In March 2020, Iran became the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic outside China. […] Although the early predictions that the virus would kill between 250,000 and 500,000 Iranians by August 2020 have failed to materialize, and the second wave is slowly flattening, Iran is by no means out of the woods. Its economy is still in tatters, its currency is depreciating, and inflation is still above 30%. Given how far apart the positions of Iran’s leaders and the Trump administration are, there is little hope for any improvement in the near future. The situation could change significantly if the Democrats win the White House in November and decide to return the US to the JCPOA.  It is ironic how intertwined the lives of ordinary Iranians with US politics is given how hard the Islamic Republic has tried to distance itself from the US over the past four decades.

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