• 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.

  • 2021-01-15

    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.

  • 2021-01-13

    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. 

  • 2021-01-12

    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.

  • 2021-01-09

    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.