One dogma that is likely to persist in US foreign policy during a Biden presidency will be the sanctions regime adopted towards Iran. Every messianic state craves clearly scripted enemies, and the demonology about the Islamic Republic is not going to go begging. Elliot Abrahams, the current US special representative for Iran, told Associated Press on November 12 that, “Even if you went back to the (nuclear deal) and even if the Iranians were willing to return … this newly enriched uranium, you would not have solved these fundamental questions of whether Iran is going to be permitted to violate long-term commitments it has made to the world community.” […] The statements of the president-elect suggest nothing comforting to health specialists and policy makers bearing witness to the suffering caused by sanctions. Trump’s “maximum pressure” policy might be abandoned in name, but will continue exerting a haunting influence. The hawks in the Republican Party will be sharpening their talons, ever watchful of any softening towards Tehran.
U.S. sanctions are preventing Iran from making advance payment to the global COVAX facility set up to provide COVID-19 vaccines to poorer countries, the Iranian government said as the virus death toll kept climbing in the Middle East’s hardest-hit state.
American foreign policy has complicated the ability of museums—whether University research museums, like the Oriental Institute and the University of Pennsylvania Museum, or major art museums such as the V&A and the Louvre—to conduct the exchanges of objects and personnel required put on exhibitions related to Iranian cultural heritage. Nevertheless, museum professionals in North America, Europe, and Iran recognize the importance of these events for educating the public and for establishing ties between nations.
Currently, it appears that American sanctions have had two outcomes: first, there has been a decrease in foreign tourists from Europe and China coupled with an increase in foreign tourists from neighboring countries, presumably for pilgrimage; and second, policymakers have shifted their attention to stimulating demand for domestic tourism. By all measures, however, the industry has been severely handicapped by the COVID-19 pandemic, suffering job losses estimated at around 13,000 by August 2020 among tour guides alone, not to mention in hotels and travel agencies. Prognoses for the future remain bleak, as demand is not likely to rebound soon, and promised government support for the industry has been slow to materialize.
One area of Iran’s economy and society which has been little discussed in conversations on the impact of maximum pressure sanctions is the cultural heritage sector. Cultural heritage is significant for any country’s national identity, and this is nowhere more true than in Iran, which has 24 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, a robust set of heritage institutions, and a public deeply invested in its history. The importance of Iran’s national patrimony is clearly reflected in Donald Trump’s January 2020 threat to strike 52 Iranian heritage sites if Iran were to target American troops, citizens, or assets in Iraq in retaliation for the assassination of Qassem Soleimani. […] The articles in this series will therefore investigate the impact of American policy on cultural heritage management in Iran, in particular as it relates to the three domains of tourism, heritage diplomacy, and international scientific cooperation. Generally, American sanctions and maximum pressure have created extreme challenges for those working in these areas at every level, from government ministers and policymakers to museum directors, from archaeology professors to tour guides and hospitality workers.
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.
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.
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. […]“
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.
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.