Iran is one of the foremost enemies of the West and its ongoing nuclear program poses the most menacing and serious threat to the stability of the Middle East and the security of the world. In 2012, IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano announced that "what we know [about Iran's nuclear program] suggests the development of nuclear weapons."
The entire world seems to agree that Iran should not be allowed to develop nuclear weapons. Since the military option to deter Iran is a scenario that few want or believe can work, the principal tactic that has been adopted to prevent Iran from creating a bomb is sanctions. Imposed either unilaterally or multilaterally, sanctions are a peaceful and diplomatic avenue to make hardships for the regime - both economically and politically - to put them in a situation where a choice must be made between continuing the nuclear program or watching their country suffer. The sanctions regime has garnered international legitimacy since the adoption of UN Security Council Resolution 1737 in December 2006.
Since 2006, the United States and European Union have been the biggest supporters of sanctions against the Iranian regime and have passed numerous bills to impose ever harsher sanctions. Through their leadership, many international shipping agencies, traders, bankers and global insurance companies have pulled their dealings with Iran.
Unfortunately, though, these moves have so far done little to deter Iran from its nuclear ambitions. Already in December 2008, then-Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Hassan Qashqavi's said that “Iran will never suspend uranium enrichment,” blatantly calling out the sanctions regime as either ineffectual or lacking teeth. In June 2013, newly-elected President Hassan Rouhani - who once led Iran's nuclear negotiating team to agree to a suspension of the program in 2003 - reiterated Qashqavi's sentiment when he said that the "era [of suspending enrichment] is behind us."
The efficacy of the Iran sanctions is already under seige. In testimony before a Senate intelligence committee in February 2012, CIA Director James Clapper said, "The sanctions as imposed so far have not caused [Iran] to change their behavior or their policy." Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has repeatedly said that sanctions have not done enough to affect a change in Iran's nuclear program and in August 2013 Iranian MP Avaz Heidarpour, a member of the parliament's National Security & Foreign Policy Commission, said that "sanctions have proven ineffective."
History also works against the success of the Iran sanctions. Simon Henderson, an expert on energy policy in the Middle East, noted, “Iran is unlikely to give up its nuclear program after seeing what happened to Qaddafi and Saddam Hussein, who were both driven from power, after acceding to international pressure to give up their nuclear ambitions."
The sanctions regime, as it has been constituted, has also been doomed for failure because it has yet to be implemented correctly and unwaveringly supported. The United States specifically has had many issues fully implementing sanctions against Iran and, to date, no U.S. Administration has fully implemented any of the sanctions against Iran in place since 1996.
Congress has passed a number of bills, and the White House numerous executive orders, regarding Iran sanctions - - in June 2010, November 2011, February 2012, July 2012, November 2012, January 2013 and June 2013 to name the most recent - but the efficacy of these bills have been severely weakened from loopholes or waivers allowing the U.S. to delay their implementation. President Obama's Executive Order 13590, for example, was delayed more than six months out of fear it would stimulate a rise in oil prices. Likewise, in March 2012 and again in June 2013, President Obama or the State Department granted exemptions to countries, including Japan and several European nations, to allow them to continue doing limited business with Iran.
European Union sanctions have similarly fallen on mostly deaf ears. The EU has at times been unable to completely restrain nations from dealing with Tehran and, more importantly, Iran has been one of Europe's major foreign oil exporters. This need for crude oil has allowed Iran the maneuverability to get around sanctions, as profit from sales lessens the financial impact of sanctions. In January 2012, the EU finally passed an "unprecendented" resolution to embargo all Iranian oil and, to support its implementation, Saudi Arabia promised to fulfill Europe's gas needs.
Also minimizing the impact of sanctions are UN member nations that originally supported Resolution 1737 in 2006 but continue to trade with Iran, proving to Iranian leaders that UN resolutions and international threats need not be taken seriously. Russia, China, Turkey and India, for example, have helped the Iranians steer clear of the negative consequences that sanctions place on its economy. In April 2012, Turkey and India announced that they are looking to lower their trade levels with Iran, however Russia and China both vigorously oppose sanctioning the regime. In 2012, Russia’s Foreign Ministry said that sanctions are "deeply mistaken policy" and would be unlikely for Iran to "make any concessions or any corrections to its policies” because of sanctions.
Even with the looming threat of a nuclear Iran, China and other Asian countries continue to support Iran through increasing oil purchases. In August 2014 it was reported that Asian countries increased oil purchases from Iran by 29.4% in July 2014 compared to purchases in July 2013. China is the largest consumer of Iranian oil, with 80% of it's Iranian imports consisting of crude oil. Despite this fact, Iran's largest customers (China, India, Japan, and South Korea) purchased 1.029 million barrels per day of Iranian crude oil, the lowest total number in 7 months. July 2014 marked China's seventh straight month of increasing trade volume with Iran.
On November 23, 2013, the P5+1 and Iran reached a set of initial understandings that halts the progress of Iran's nuclear program and rolls it back in key respects. The agreement was hailed as only an interim deal, set for six months, that will give world powers extended time to work with the Islamic Republic on a permanent solution to the nuclear crisis. Under this deal, in return for cooperation during nuclear negotiations and nuclear power concessions, the P5+1 loosened multiple sanctions against Iran in pursuit of an agreement. The P5+1 pledged that the international community will not impose new nuclear-related sanctions on Iran for at least six months from the date of the agreement and will suspend certain sanctions on gold and precious metals, Iran's auto sector, and Iran's petrochemical exports among other things in return for halting Iran's production of enriched uranium. In addition to this loosening of sanctions, Iran was also promised the release of billions of dollars in international frozen assets. Due to this loosening of sanctions, during 2014 German exports to Iran skyrocketed 33% compared to falling export numbers in previous years. Germany is an important trading partner for Iran and this export increase is certainly welcome, especially in the wake of falling German exports to Russia thanks to the Ukraine crisis.
The last details of this temporary agreement, known as the Joint Plan of Action (or JPOA) were finalized by the P5+1 on January 12, 2014. Although this plan was originally rolled out in November of 2013, it was not ready to take effect or finalized until January 2014. Iran agreed to this temporary halt in uranium production in exchange for foreign aid from the West in the form of sanctions relief totalling $6-$7 billion. A deal was not reached by the agreed-upon deadline of July 20, 2014, and the nuclear negotiations were extended until November 24.
In late August 2014, it was reported that Iran had been undertaking "mechanical" tests on a new centrifuge system. Iran claims that both it's new and old centrifuges are not for nuclear weaponization purposes and that it is manufacturing new ones to replace it's old and accident-prone ones. These new advanced centrifuges could allow Iran to come up with a nuclear weapon at a much faster rate than before. The interim deal struck between Iran and the P5+1 in November 2013 states that Iran could not go beyond the current centrifuge research and development programs it had in place. In response to these actions taken by Iran, on August 29 President Barack Obama announced new sanctions directed against 25+ organizations, banks and individuals suspected of helping the Iranian government work towards acquiring nuclear weapons capabilities. US Undersecretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence David Cohen stated that the sanctions are directed against organizations and individuals that "are involved in expanding Iran's proliferation program, support terrorism in the region, and help Iran evade US and international sanctions". Some of the groups sanctioned by this action include: Asia Bank, Meraj Air, Caspian Air, Faylaca Petroleum, The Organization of Defensive Innovation and Research, Nuclear Science and Technology Research Institute, Mandegar Baspar Kimiya Co, and Jahan Tech Rooyan Pars. Individuals sanctioned by this action include: Sayyed Jabar Hosseini (a senior Iranian official who has supported terrorist activities), Abdelhak Kaddouri (the financial chief of the National Iranian Oil Co), Mohammad Javad, and Arman Imanirad.
On Thursday September 4 2014 Japan transferred $1 billion in frozen oil assets to Iran, the first and second installments of the $2.8 billion promised to Iran as a part of the interim deal with the P5+1. It is estimated that Iran has $100 billion in frozen funds abroad which it does not have open access to due to sanctions.
It was revealed late in the afternoon on the deadline of November 24 that the two parties still had significant differences to work out and that no comprehensive nuclear deal had been reached. After months of intense negotiations between Iran and world superpowers from the P5+1, the two groups could not come to an agreement by the deadline agreed to in July. The nuclear discussions were once again extended, this time for seven months. The negotiating teams hope to have a draft agreement by March 1, 2015, with a finalized agreement on the table ready to be accepted by all parties in July. Until a more comprehensive deal is reached, the conditions and stipulations of the current temporary deal remain in effect. Following the announcement of an extension of the negotiations, South Korea made a $500 million payment to Iran for crude oil imports. Under the interim agreement Iran is allowed to access $700 million per month in sanctions relief in the form of oil payments from their frozen international bank accounts.
In allegations that had been previously unreported, in December 2014 US officials accused Iran of breaching the nuclear sanctions placed on them by the United Nations by secretely seeking to acquire parts for a heavy water reactor that could be used in the production of nuclear weapons grade materials. US and international monitors observed "no recent downturn in [Iranian] procurement" activities according to a November 7 report made public in early December. The extension of the negotiations was good news for countries looking to do business with Iran, and they took advantage of the favorable diplomatic climate. These accusations were taken with a grain of salt by the international community, as news like this usually takes a very long time to be released so the accusations may predate the interim agreement, meaning that Iran did not violate the agreement at least in this way.
During US President Barack Obama's January 2015 State of the Union address, he warned the new Republican controlled legislature against levying new sanctions on Iran, lest they unravel the progress that has been made in the negotiations so far. The President told the legislators that "New sanctions passed by this Congress, at this moment in time, will all but guarantee that diplomacy fails—alienating America from its allies; and ensuring that Iran starts up its nuclear programme again." House Speaker John Boehner invited Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to address Congress in January 2015, in hopes of swaying them away from voting in favor of a bad nuclear deal with Iran.
Democrats in Congress gave Obama and the negotiating teams substantial breathing room on January 27, when they announced that they would hold off on voting or moving any legislation forward that might tighten any penalties or sanctions against Iran until after March 24. Congressmen and government officials hope that this two month timeframe will be enough for the negotiating teams to come to a comprehensive and complete framework for ensuring Iran's nuclear program has only peaceful applications. Obama has stated that he will veto any sanctions bill that arrives on his desk while the negotiators are still attempting to reach a deal.
The US Senate Banking Committee approved the Nuclear Weapon Free Iran Act of 2015 on January 29, 2015, by an 18-4 vote. The bipartisan legislation was introduced by Senators Mark Kirk (R-IL) and Robert Menendez (D-NJ), and although it did not impose any new sanctions on Iran, it increased the pressure on the Iranian regime. The act set in stone that if there is no agreement reached by the June 30 deadline all of the sanctions that were waived with the acceptance of the interim agreement would be put back in place. In addition, the act imposes monthly escalating sanctions begining in August should the negotiating teams fail to reach an agreement. The bill provides for President Obama to be able to shoot down any sanctions activity, should he feel that it would interfere with reaching a comprehensive deal.
A framework for a nuclear agreement was reached between Iranian and P5+1 negotiators on April 2, 2015, aimed at curtailing Iran's nuclear ambitions while slowly and steadily decreasing sanctions pressure on the Iranians. The United States lobbied the international community in favor of the automatic reimposition of sanctions on Iran should they be found to be in violation of the framework agreement. Russian officials voiced their opposition to the automatic reimposition of international sanctions if Iran is caught cheating in regards to elements of the proposed nuclear deal. Russias Ambassador to the UN, Vitaly Churkin, bluntly stated that “there can be no automaticity, none whatsoever”(Bloomberg, May 13, 2015)
The Islamic Republic of Iran received a 13-ton hoard of gold, worth close to $500 million, that was being held up by sanctions against the country on July 2, 2015. The gold had been purchased prior to the imposition of international sanctions against Iran, and had been stored in South Africa since 2013. The return of the gold reportedly had little to do with the nuclear negotiations, and was worked out in a sideline deal.
Negotiators from the P5+1 and Iran announced on July 14, 2015, after 20 months of negotiations, that a comprehensive agreement aimed at limiting Iran's nuclear capabilities had been reached, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). The final agreement exchanges relief from American and international sanctions for access to Iranian nuclear facilities. and the promise that Iran will not make any more strides towards the development of a nuclear bomb while the agreement is in place. In return for limiting their nuclear program, as part of the deal Iran was slated to receive an estimated $100-$150 billion in frozen assets and oil revenues worldwide due to relief from sanctions. Under the agreement Iran has to provide international inspectors access to suspicious sites within 24 days of their request. If Iran refuses these inspectors access within the 24 day period, international sanctions against Iran can be “snapped back” in place.
Economic sanctions imposed by the United States and the United Nations Security Council were lifted on January 16, 2016, with the news that Iran had complied with all aspects of the JCPOA. The United Nations Security Council received the IAEA report detailing Iran's compliance with the JCPOA on January 16, 2016, triggering an automatic end to most United Nations Sanctions on Iran under UNSCR 2231 adopted on July 20, 2015. UNSCR 2231 states that when Iran completes all of the necessary steps to implement the agreement and the IAEA approves, seven Security Council resolutions against Iran will be lifted. The resolution includes an automatic snap-back provision to re-impose sanctions, should Iran be found in violation of the JCPOA.
According to an analysis undertaken by the U.S. Office of Naval Intelligence and made public in March 2017, it is likely that the Iranian government and military will go on a
shopping spree for warships, submarines, and ballistic missiles of all types after the JCPOA expires in 2020. The report, released by Bloomberg News, claims that after the 2020 expiration of the landmark nuclear deal,
Iran may look to foreign acquisitions of ships and submarines with a wide array of weapons suites... that have been inaccessible since sanctions were imposed. To read the report from the U.S. Office of Naval Intelligence, please click here.
Developments in the Failure of Sanctions:
(Listed in Reverse Chronological Order)
- President Trump's State Department continues with sanctions relief for Iran, in keeping their part of the JCPOA bargain. U.S. Treasury Department announces sanctions on Iranian and Chinese entities for providing support for Iran's ballistic missile program.
(Reuters, May 17, 2017)
- U.S. Office of Naval Intelligence Assessment: Iran will purchase many warships, submarines, missiles after the JCPOA expires in 2020.
(Bloomberg, March 1, 2017)
- Iranian Quds Force commander Qassem Soleimani visits Moscow, violating sanctions.
(Fox News, February 15, 2017)
- President Donald Trump's administration issued their first sanctions against Iran on February 3, 2017, in response to a recent ballistic missile test during the previous week. The U.S. Treasury Department announced sanctions against 25 individuals and companies connected to and providing support for Iran's missile program.
(CNN, February 3, 2017)
- Iran test fires a balistic missile for the first time since President Donald Trump took office two weeks prior. U.S. officials condemned the test, stating that it may be in violation of a UNSC resolution.
(LA Times, January 31, 2017)
- Iran may have violated an arms embargo by providing material support to Hezbollah in Lebanon, according to a UN report.
(Reuters, January 8, 2017)
- In response to the U.S. Congress re-authorizing the Iran Sanctions Act (ISA) for another 10 years, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani orders the development of a nuclear-propulsion system for Iranian ships.
(Reuters, December 13, 2016)
- Iran exceeds a 130-tonne soft limit on it's heavy-water for the second time. The IAEA confirmed in early December that the excess materials had been disposed of.
(Reuters, November 9, 2016)
- U.S.-based jet manufacturer Boeing signs a $17.6 billion deal with Iran to sell them airliners.
(Wall Street Journal, June 23, 2016)
- Iran's oil exports to South Korea have quadrupled to more than 400,000 barrels per day since international sanctions against Iran were lifted in January. Iranian exports to South Korea totalled less than 100,000 barrels per day prior to the sanctions removal.
(Reuters, May 2, 2016)
- In response to these ballistic missile tests, the United States imposed new sanctions on Iranian defense firms, units of the Iranian Revolutionary Gaurds, Iran's Mahan Air, and two firms in the United Arab Emirates.
(Wall Street Journal, March 25, 2016)
- Iran test-fires two Qadr H missiles with the phrase “Israel must be wiped out,” emblazoned on the sides. The missile test coincided with U.S. Vice President Joe Biden's visit to Israel to discuss upcoming aid packages.
(Time, March 9, 2016)
- Iran announces they will enter into a contract with Russia to purchase an undisclosed number of Sukhoi-30 fighter jets, and will begin taking delivery of the S-300 missile system within the next few months.
(AP, February 11, 2016)
- Iranian government spokesman Mohammad Bagher Nobakht: $100 million in frozen global Iranian assets released.
(Washington Post, February 2, 2016)
- With sanctions removed, Iranian President Rouhani embarks on a trip to Europe, drumming up billions of dollars in business with Italy and France.
- French officials asked the European Union to consider imposing new sanctions on Iran over recent missile tests.
(AP, January 27, 2016)
- The IAEA reports that Iran is in compliance with all aspects of the JCPOA on implementation day, and burdensome economic sanctions levied by the U.S. and the U.N.S.C. are lifted. Sanctions pertaining to terrorism and human rights abuses remained, as did a U.S. embargo against Iran. new sanctions were announced against 11 individuals and small organizations who had allegedly supplied Iran with critical technologies including carbon-fiber materials and various missile pieces. Other Iranian officials asserted that they would continue to test their ballistic missiles, regardless of these new sanctions.
(Tehran-with-new-missile-sanctions/">Foreign Policy, January 17, 2016)
- Sources reported in mid-October 2015 that Iran had been boosting oil exports in the months since the deal was signed, in anticipation of sanctions relief. Allegedly this oil was being sold with labels claiming origins in Iraq, and other falsified paperwork. (Reuters, October 13, 2015)
- Iranian Quds Force commander Qassem Soleimani travelled to Moscow on July 24, violating a travel ban imposed by U.N. Security Council resolutions. He is prohibited to travel and is personally sanctioned under Security Council Resolution 1747.
(Fox News, August 7, 2015)
- On July 9, 2015, it was announced that Syria had accepted a $1 billion line of credit from Iran. The money supposedly will go to purchasing food and funding government projects.
(CNN, July 8, 2015)
- 13 tons of gold, worth $500 million, was released to Iran under a deal supposedly unrelated to the ongoing nuclear negotiations. The gold belonged to Iran, but had been held in South Africa since 2013 due to international sanctions.
(Islamic Republic News Agency, July 1, 2015)
-According to the United States Government Accountability Office (GAO), the U.S. has been slacking on reporting Iranian sanctions violations, and enforcing the consequences of those violations. The GAO issued a report that detailed how the State Department was at times more than three years late in reporting sanctions violations. To read the full report, click here.
- A report produced by the UN Committee on Iran Sanctions in June 2015 detailed that states refrained from reporting Iranian sanctions violations even in plan sight.
(Bloomberg, June 9, 2015)
- U.S. General Martin Dempsey visited Israel and met with officials, expressing concern that sanctions relief following a final Iran deal would allow Iran to increase funding to it's terrorist proxies.
(Reuters, June 9, 2015)
- Russian Abmassador to the United Nations: “there can be no automaticity, none whatsoever,” referring to the possible automatic reimposition of sanctions on Iran if they are found to be in violation of the framework agreement.
(Bloomberg, May 13, 2015)
- An Iranian airline blacklisted under U.S. sanctions purchased 9 used Airbus passenger planes. In response to this, the United States imposed sanctions on Al-Naser Airlines and Sky Blue Bird Aviation from Iraq and the UAE, who facilitated the sale of these planes.
(New York Times, May 11, 2015)
- A confidential United Nations report revealed that Iran had been sending weapons and other supplies to Yemen's Houthi rebels since at least 2009. .
(Daily Star Lebanon, May 1, 2015)
- The Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) revealed on April 14, 2015, that China, in addition to Russia, was going to begin constructing nuclear plants in Iran
(Algemeiner, April 14, 2015)
- During the week following the announcement of a framework agreement aimed at limiting Iran's nuclear capabilities, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree lifting a ban on the delivery of S-300 anti-missile systems to Iran.
(Haaretz, April 13, 2015)
- Iranian President Rouhani: “We will not sign any agreement, unless all economic sanctions are totally lifted on the first day of the implementation of the deal”
(Haaretz April 8, 2015)
- The P5+1 and Iran agree to a framework for a nuclear agreement, including the gradual, systematic, and eventual lifting of all sanctions against Iran.
(The White House April 2, 2015)
- Ayatollah Khamenei: "If their intent is to retain sanctions, the Iranian nation can go that route as well. Iran has the world's most gas and oil, and if need be Iran can hold back gas that Europe and the world is so dependent on."
(LA Times February 18, 2015)
- The Senate Banking Committee approved the Nuclear Weapon Free Iran Act of 2015. Although the bill does not impose any new sanctions on Iran, it increased the pressure on the Iranian regime. The act set in stone that if there is no agreement reached by the June 30 deadline all of the sanctions that were waived with the acceptance of the interim agreement would be put back in place. In addition, the act imposes monthly escalating sanctions begining in August should the negotiating teams fail to reach an agreement.
(Senate Banking Committee, January 29, 2015)
- The US Congress will officially hold off on voting on any new sanctions or penalties on Iran until the negotiation deadline of March 24.
- Iranian President Hassan Rouhani announced during a visit to the Bushehr nuclear power facility that the facility is to be expanded and that two new nuclear power facilities are to be built in the vicinity. The goal of these power plants is to increase nuclear power output according to the Iranian government.
(Fars News, January 14 2015)
- The IAEA report for the end of 2014 included details that showed that Iran was cooperating in certain aspects with the temporary deal agreed to in January 2014. According to the report, the Iranians kept their word and continued to not enrich uranium over 5%, and had also not made any other significant technological advances at their nuclear facilities.
- South Korea made a $500 million payment to Iran for crude oil imports. According to official documents, Iran sold over $1.3 billion in oil to South Korea during 2014.
(International Business Times, November 26)
-German exports to Iran rose 33% during the first 8 months of 2014 thanks to the loosening of international sanctions in pursuit of a nuclear deal.
(Reuters, November 4)
-Japan releases $1 billion in frozen Iranian oil assets to Iran. This payment represents the first 2 payments of the $2.8 billion that Iran was promised during the interim agreement.
-The United States imposed a fresh round of sanctions on Iranian companies and individuals that the US believes have been assisting Iran to develop nuclear weaponization capabilities. These companies include: Asia Bank, Meraj Air, Caspian Air, Faylaca Petroleum, The Organization of Defensive Innovation and Research, Nuclear Science and Technology Research Institute, Mandegar Baspar Kimiya Co, and Jahan Tech Rooyan Pars. In response to these sanctions, the Iranian government has expressed anger and has said that they will bypass the sanctions, stating that they are illegal and the Iranian government does not recognize the sanctions as legitimate.
(Reuters, September 3)
-The IAEA's monthly report for July showed that Iran was in fact taking the appropriate steps towards scaling down it's nuclear capabilities.
- Iran and Russia have made progress towards an oil-for-goods deal sources said would be worth up to $20 billion, which would enable Tehran to boost vital energy exports in defiance of Western sanctions. The barter arrangement that would see Iranian oil exchanged for industrial goods including metals and food but o military equipment. The deal was expected to be done in stages with an initial $6 billion to $8 billion tranche.
(Reuters, April 2)
- Iran's oil exports have stayed above levels allowed under Western sanctions for a fifth straight month. Under the deal to ease some restrictions on the Islamic Republic, Iran's exports are supposed to be held at an average 1 million barrels per day for the six months to July 20. But shipments to Asia have topped that level at least since November, according to ship tracking data.
(Reuters, March 26)
- Vann Van Diepen, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for International Security and Non-Proliferation, said that Iran has pursued a longstanding effort to buy banned components for its nuclear and missile programmes in recent months, during a period when it struck an interim deal with major powers to limit its disputed atomic activity. Iran was still "very actively" creating front companies and engaging in other activity to conceal procurements. Such trade would breach a 2006 U.N. embargo banning the provision by any nation to Iran of materials related to its nuclear and missile development work.
(Reuters, March 16)
- 85 U.S. Senators signed a letter to President Obama urging the continuance of the existing sanctions on Iran and expressing their concern if Iran rejects an agreement to bring to an end its nuclear weapons ambitions. The letter was initiated by Sens. Robert Menendez - the chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Sen. Chuck Schumer - the third highest-ranking Democrat, and four others, including three Republicans.
(U.S. Senate, March 16)
- Iran's oil exports peaked at a one-year high over January and February 2014, showing that the thaw in relations with the West is boosting the troubled economy of the Islamic Republic. Though bans of importing oil in the European Union remain in place, Asian oil buyers are getting more comfortable buying Iranian oil because of decreased political risks. India's Iran oil imports jumped by 175,000 barrels a day. In February, imports of Iranian oil surged in Japan and South Korea, by 155,000 barrels a day and 145,000 barrels a day, respectively.
(Wall Street Journal, March 14)
- As Western sanctions enforcement against Iran eased in light of the ongoing nuclear negotiations, the Islamic Republic's main oil and gas shipping company is set to boost its fleet. In a sign of renewed optimism within Iran's battered oil industry, the National Iranian Tanker Co. has also made contact with European oil and shipping companies to resume business with them. NIT's managing director Ali Akbar Safaei said the resumption of trade with European companies would depend on a full lifting of sanctions, which still include an EU ban on Iranian crude-oil imports.
(Wall Street Journal, March 13)
- On February 11, Iran's atomic chief Ali Akbar Salehi announced that the Islamic Republic has developed a new generation of centrifuges which are 15 times more powerful than those currently being used to enrich uranium. "We unveiled a new generation of centrifuges that surprised the Westerners," he said, quoted by the state broadcaster. Iran said the development was not in violation of an agreement between Iran and six world powers that has imposed curbs on Tehran?s nuclear drive.
(Agence France-Presse, February 11)
- Since the West reached a landmark deal with Iran on its controversial nuclear program in late November 2013, many Western companies are gearing up do big business with the Islamic Republic. Although none of the sanctions have yet been lifted, droves of Western business people are already flocking to Tehran. Iran has the world's fourth-largest known oil reserves, and the second-largest gas reserve - business deals worth billions can be made there.
(Der Spiegel, January 2)
- According to data from China's General Administration of Customs, Iran delivered 538,513 barrels per day (bpd) of crude to China in November 2013. This represented an increase of more than 100% as China had imported only 249,848 bpd in October 2013.
(Press-TV, December 23)
- Speaking to a group of Iranian students in Tehran, Iran's Foreign Minister, Javad Zarif, warned that Iran can and will end the suspension of its 20% nuclear enrichment if the West defies the Geneva interim deal signed in late November. "The structure of our nuclear program has been maintained," said Zarif. "And the 20% enrichment can be resumed in less than twenty-four hours."
(FARS News, December 18)
- Israeli security sources said that the Obama administration conceded that the value of economic sanctions relief to Iran granted by the interim nuclear deal is closer to $20 billion. The administration originally said the sanctions relief would be relatively low, around $6-7 billion. However, during the negotiations the U.S. backtracked from this opening position and approved much more significant relief in a wide variety of areas: commerce in gold, the Iranian petrochemical industry, the car industry and replacement parts for civilian aircraft. Thus, according to the Israeli sources, the sanctions relief is now worth approximately $20-25 billion.
(Haaretz, December 11)
- U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry appealed to the U.S. Congress not to impose new sanctions on Iran while the United States seeks to negotiate a comprehensive agreement to curb Tehran's nuclear program. "We are asking you to give our negotiators and our experts the time and the space to do their jobs and that includes asking you while we negotiate that you hold off imposing new sanctions," Kerry told the House Foreign Affairs Committee. "I am not saying never ... If this doesn't work, we are coming back and asking you for more. I am just saying not right now," he added. "This is a very delicate diplomatic moment."
(Chicago Tribune, December 10)
- The Obama administration is prepared to allow Iran to engage in a "limited enrichment program" if Tehran holds up its end of the international agreement, particularly with regards to curtailing its nuclear capabilities under stringent global oversight. "We are prepared to negotiate a strictly limited enrichment program," national security spokeswoman Bernadette Meehan said in a statement. Wendy Sherman, U.S. undersecretary of state for political affairs, noted that in a comprehensive agreement the United States "would consider a limited, modest enrichment program, if it is attached to real, practical needs." Sherman also stressed that the "sanctions that we are suspending are quite limited, quite targeted and all reversible."
(CNN, December 4)
- Not even a week after an interim deal with Iran was agreed upon offering sanctions relief, foreign automakers are expressing willingness to return to Iran's auto market. Specifically, French car manufacturers Peugeot and Renault have already held meetings with the Iranian Minister of Industry, Mining and Commerce and hashed out an initial agreement to return to Iran.
(ISNA News Agency, December 2)
- The P5+1 and Iran reached a set of initial understandings that halts the progress of Iran's nuclear program for at least six months and rolls it back in key respects. The details of the deal include: Iran has committed to halt enrichment above 5%, neutralize its stockpile of near-20% uranium, halt progress on its enrichment capacity, halt progress on activities at the Arak reactor and provide daily access by IAEA inspectors at the Natanz and Fordow sites. In return for these steps, the international community will not impose new nuclear-related sanctions on Iran for at least six months and will suspend certain sanctions on gold and precious metals, Iran's auto sector, and Iran's petrochemical exports. An additional $6-7 billion in sanctions relief is also provided in the agreement.
(White House, November 23)
- Following a meeting with President Obama, a bipartisan group of U.S. Congressmen from the top foreign policy and national security committees agreed to hold off on a vote to impose new sanctions on Iran until after the next round of nuclear talks in Geneva, set for the last week in November. A different group of Senators, however, led by Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL). proposed a stricter sanctions bill, which would take aim at Iran's remaining oil sales, as an amendment to the military bill.
(New York Times, November 19)
- In Israel for a three-day visit, French President Francois Hollande assured Israel that France would continue to oppose an easing of economic sanctions against Iran until it was convinced Tehran had given up any pursuit of nuclear weapons. Hollande also reaffirmed France's conditions for an interim deal: put all Iranian nuclear installations under international surveillance, suspend 20 percent uranium enrichment, reduce existing enriched uranium stocks and stop construction of a heavy water plant at Arak that could potentially produce weapons-grade plutonium. "These are the points that are essential to us to underpin a deal," Hollande said.
(Yediot Ahronoth, November 17)
- The White House and State Department blasted Congressional efforts to place new sanctions on Iran as negotiations continued on the Islamic Republic's nuclear program. Officials warned that spoiling diplomatic talks with Iran would be a "march to war" - "It is important to understand that if pursuing a resolution diplomatically is disallowed or ruled out, what options, then, do we and our allies have to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon?" said White House Press Secretary Jay Carney. "The American people do not want a march to war." State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki drove home the point - "Putting new sanctions in place would be a mistake while we're still determining a diplomatic route forward."
(Foreign Policy, November 12)
- On the eve of a new round of talks with Iran, a senior Obama administration official said that the United States was prepared to offer Iran limited relief from economic sanctions if Tehran agreed to temporarily halt its nuclear program. The official said that the suspension of Iran's nuclear efforts, perhaps for six months, would give negotiators time to pursue a comprehensive and far more challenging agreement. Israel, for its part, rejects the proposal. "Israel thinks this is a bad deal and will oppose it strongly," an Israeli official said.
(New York Times, November 6)
- Asia's top buyers of Iranian crude oil have reduced their purchases from the Islamic Republic by 11.5 percent so far this year, and shipments are set to fall even further by the end of 2013. China, India and South Korea - three of Tehran's top four clients - have rebuffed Iranian offers for more oil, industry sources said.
(Reuters, October 31)
- The White House hosted a meeting of aides to Senate committee leaders seeking to persuade lawmakers to hold off on a package of tough new sanctions against Iran over its nuclear program. The Obama administration hopes for another delay on a sanctions bill that had been expected to come to a vote in the Senate Banking Committee last month but was held back after appeals from Obama to let negotiations on Iran's nuclear program get under way first.
(Reuters, October 24)
- In the wake of a first round of nuclear diplomacy with Iran, the Obama administration is weighing a proposal to ease sanctions on Tehran by offering it access to billions of dollars in frozen funds. The ease would only be implemented if the Iranian government takes specific steps to curb its nuclear program.
(New York Times, October 17)
- A bipartisan group of ten U.S. senators sent a letter to President Barack Obama signalling their openness to suspending the implementation of new sanctions on Iran if the Islamic Republic takes significant steps to slow its nuclear program. The letter urged Obama to consider a "suspension-for-suspension" agreement, in which Iran suspends uranium enrichment and Washington suspends the implementation of new sanctions.
(Voice of America, October 14)
- Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the leaders of Britain, Prime Minister David Cameron, and France, President Francois Hollande, to urge them not to ease sanctions on Iran over its nuclear program ahead of talks between Iran and world powers. Netanyahu told Cameron and Hollande that the sanctions were close to achieving their goal. "Until Iran dismantles its military nuclear program, sanctions must not be eased - on the contrary. Only the pressure brought Iran to this point, and only the continuation of pressure and its strengthening can bring them to dismantle their nuclear program," Netanyahu was quoted as saying.
(Reuters, October 12)
- Israeli Intelligence Minister Yuval Steinitz told a conference for strategic studies that over the last 18-24 months the international sanctions have caused about $100 billion in damage to Iran’s economy, which has an annual $450 billion GDP. In addition, he said inflation in Iran is currently running at 40% a year, the unemployment rate is between 25%-30%, the rial, Iran’s currency, has been devalued by 180% and the country has a negative economic growth of 5.4%. Steinitz said that the sanctions have effectively cut Iran off from the world’s financial system and that at this rate, he predicted the Iranian economy will collapse in another year-and-a-half.
(Jerusalem Post, October 7)
- Officials reponsible for monitoring the U.N. sanctions regime against Iran say that the Islamic Republic has intensified its efforts to circumvent restrictions by strengthening its trading ties with a number of neighboring countries, including Turkey, Iraq and the United Arab Emirates. The government has stepped up efforts to acquiring gold and foreign currency that can be used to shore up the rial. For example, Iranian bankers have successfully exploited loopholes in the U.N. sanctions to channel billions of dollars worth of gold from Turkey to the Central Bank of Iran. Iran has also exploited its close relationship with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to acquire foreign currency through a network of Iranian money-changers who are working in major towns and cities in Iraq.
(Wall Street Journal, October 2)
- Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and U.S. Ambassador Michael Oren met with members of the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee, thanking them for their support of bills sanctioning Iran for its nuclear program and urging them to continue to pressure the Islamic Republic. "[Netanyahu] just said basically that he believes in the importance that there be cost if Iran continues its nuclear program," Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD) said. "What we're doing now he strongly thanked us for and said it's having an impact and making it possible for us to negotiate." Committee chair Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) said in a statement, "Our resolve to prevent Iran from achieving a nuclear weapons capability remains unchanged and we will not hesitate from proceeding with further sanctions and other options to protect US interests and ensure regional security. While we welcome Iran's diplomatic engagement, it cannot be used to buy time, avoid sanctions, and continue the march toward nuclear weapons capability."
(Times of Israel, October 1)
- U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, tapped by President Obama to lead diplomatic efforts with Iran over its nuclear program, confirmed that the United States will not ease sanctions against the Islamic Republic until "it is clear that a very verifiable, accountable, transparent process is in place, whereby we know exactly what Iran is gonna be doing with its program." Kerry said that the first steps to such a process should include the immediate opening of the Fordow nuclear plant for inspection as well as the signing of protocols of the international community regarding inspections.
(CBS News, September 29)
- According to a Chinese Customs release, in August 2013 China imported 440,000 barrels of oil from Iran - an 18% increase over the same period last year.
(FARS News Agency, September 26)
- India's oil ministry announnced that it wants to raise imports of Iranian crude oil - even though U.S. sanctions call for a cut - and argued its case in a memorandum released ahead of a meeeting between U.S. President Barack Obama and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. Oil accounts for about a third of India's total imports and higher dollar prices combined with a rupee near all-time lows have increased its cost, adding pressure to a bloated current account deficit.
(Reuters, September 23)
- In a setback to Western efforts to isolate the Iranian regime over its nuclear program, the General Court in Brussels, the European Union's second-highest tribunal, ruled that the EU should lift sanctions imposed against seven Iranian companies. The court ruled that the bloc wrongly imposed sanctions against these companies as part of its efforts to stop Iran from developing nuclear weapons. The companies are: Post Bank Iran, Iran Insurance Company, Good Luck Shipping, Export Development Bank of Iran, Persia International Bank, Iranian Offshore Engineering and Construction Co and Bank Refah Kargaran. "We are very disappointed by the court's decision," a U.S. Treasury spokesman said in a statement. "The evidence linking these banks to Iran's illicit nuclear activities is clear and strong, and no financial institution anywhere should allow these Iranian banks to transact with them."
(New York Times, September 6)
- Estimates provided by a senior U.S. official showed that the American government has concluded that nearly half of Iran's monthly earnings from crude oil exports are accumulating in accounts overseas because of sanctions that restrict Tehran's access to the money. The estimates show that about $1.5 billion in crude oil revenues is piling up in restricted foreign accounts every month. Crude revenues overall averaged about $3.4 billion monthly in the first half of year, according to the assessment. That means Iran is not able to either spend or repatriate about 44 percent of its crude oil income.
(Associated Press, August 30)
- Following the inauguration of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, who replaces outgoing President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, 76 members of the U.S. Senate sent a letter urging President Obama to step up sanctions and bring "a renewed sense of urgency" to stopping Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. The letter notes overtures by Rohani to make more transparent the Iranian nuclear program that he insists is peaceful, but it also demands that Iran agree to remove its stockpiles of 20 percent enriched uranium. Rohani has categorically refused to suspend uranium enrichment. The letter was initiated by Sens. Robert Menendez (D-NJ), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
(The Telegraph, August 3)
- By a vote of 400-20, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R.850 - Nuclear Iran Prevention Act of 2013. The bill would hit Iran with the toughest sanctions yet over its nuclear program by blocking Iran from exporting any oil abroad. International sanctions have already cut Iran's oil sales in half, but lawmakers wanted to send Tehran a strong signal following the election of Hassan Rouhani. Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA), a co-sponsor of the measure, said "today the House took a critical step toward crippling this regime to prevent a nuclear Iran and dire security consequences."
(Los Angeles Times, July 31)
- Despite a report by the UN Panel of Experts on Iran that said Iran's ballistic missile tests of July 2012 qualified as a violation of UN restrictions, the 15-member UN Security Council failed to reach a unanimous decision to declare the tests illegal. The division, led by Russia and China, effectively rules out any expansion of sanctions against Tehran over the tests for the time being. As long as the sanctions committee remains divided, it will be difficult for the Security Council to add names of any Iranian individuals or entities linked to the missile tests.
(Chicago Tribune, July 15)
- Under the patronage of Federal Environment Minister Peter Altmaier and Federal Minister of Economics Philipp Rösler, Germany is planning to hold a July conference on "Energy Security," among whose speakers are Iranian Oil Minister Rostam Ghasemi, a general of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards. Ghasemi will speak despite the fact that the EU has imposed sanctions against Iran's energy sector and the Iranian Ministry of Petroleum is as an entity on the EU sanctions list.
(Commentary, July 9)
- Two top Chinese shipping lines - China Shipping Container Lines Co. and COSCO Container Lines - severed ties with Iran in compliance with the stringent new round of Western sanctions that came into effect July 1. The U.S. National Defense Authorization Act blacklists Iran's shipping, energy and port management sectors. Since much of Iran's imports, including food and consumer goods, arrive by ship, the latest set of sanctions are likely to worsen an already deep economic crisis and leave the country increasingly dependent on front companies and overland routes.
(Reuters, July 1)
- Communications satellite service provider Intelsat took several Iranian channels off the air on July 1 to comply with a new round of American sanctions targeting Iran’s state-run radio and TV company, the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB), and its president, Ezzatollah Zarghami. The Iranian channels reportedly taken off the air includes Press TV, Hispan TV and Al-Alam as well as IRIB 1 and 2 and Sahar TV. Bijan Nobaveh, a member of the cultural commission in Iran's parliament, described the move as illegal, illogical and biased.
(Asharq Alawsat, July 2)
- Yukiyo Amano, the U.N. nuclear agency chief, told Reuters that sanctions have been unsuccessful in slowing down Iran's progress in expanding its nuclear program. Amano said he remained committed to dialogue with Iran to address the IAEA's concerns about what it calls the possible military dimensions to the country's nuclear program. "There is a steady increase of capacity and production [in Iran's nuclear program]," Amano said. Asked if steps aimed at making Iran curb its atomic activity were slowing it down, he said: "I don't think so ... I don't see any impact."
(Reuters, June 17)
- South Korea's government said the country's top two shippers - Hanjin Shipping Company and Hyundai Merchant Marine Company - had ended direct shipments to Iran in May. The two shippers will also cease trans-shipments of freight ultimately destined for, or originating in, Iran from June 15 ahead of a new round of sanctions on Iran approved by U.S. President Barack Obama. Hanjin and Hyundai, the only two South Korean shippers that were still dealing with Iran, both confirmed that they are cooperating in efforts against Iran's nuclear programme.
(Reuters, June 11)
- Maryland businessman Nader Modanlo was convicted by jury for illegally facilitating a satellite deal between Iran and Russia that helped the Islamic Republic launch a satellite of its own for the first time. Modanlo was convicted of conspiring to violate the government’s long-standing embargo that prohibits U.S. citizens from directly or indirectly doing business with Iran. Prosecutors said Modanlo tried to get around the embargo by using a front company in Switzerland to conceal the involvement of Iran and funnel money to his bank account.
(Washington Post, June 10)
- The U.S. State Department exempted several countries, including China and India, from financial sanctions targeting Iranian oil sales because those countries have continued to reduce their purchases of Iranian crude oil. Under a law passed in 2011, the U.S. can sanction any firms that buy Iranian crude, but it can also grant exemptions from sanctions to countries which have made a "significant reduction" in imports from Iran. In March 2013, the U.S. gave exceptions to Japan and 10 European countries. This round of exemptions went to China, India, Malaysia, South Korea, Singapore, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Turkey and Taiwan.
(Wall Street Journal, June 5)
- U.S. President Barack Obama approved a new Executive Order to further tighten American sanctions on Iran and isolate the Iranian government for its continued failure to meet its international obligations. This new action targets Iran's currency by authorizing the imposition of sanctions on foreign financial institutions that knowingly conduct or facilitate significant transactions for the purchase or sale of the Iranian rial. This marks the first time that trade in the rial has been targeted directly for sanctions. The order also authorizes the imposition of new sanctions against those who knowingly engage in significant financial or other transactions for the sale, supply, or transfer to Iran of significant goods or services used in connection with Iran's automotive sector, which builds on the sanctions in the Iran Freedom and Counter-Proliferation Act of 2012 that targets Iranian shipping and energy sectors.
(White House, June 3)
- Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird announced on May 29 that Canada will immediately halt all bilateral trade with Iran to protest the Islamic Republic's nuclear ambitions and abysmal human rights record. "The absence of progress ... leads Canada to ban effectively immediately all imports and exports from Iran," Baird told reporters. In 2012, bilateral trade between Canada and Iran was worth around $130 million USD.
(Reuters, May 29)
- The U.S. Senate unanimously approved simple resolution 65 calling on the government to support the full implementation of United States and international sanctions on Iran and urging the President to continue to strengthen enforcement of sanctions legislation. The resolution, which passed on a vote of 99-0, also condemned inciteful statements made by Iranian government officials and reiterated U.S. support for Israel if a military confrontation with Iran were to occur.
(Library of Congress, May 23)
- On May 22, the IAEA - the UN's nuclear watchdog - released their quarterly report on the Iranian nuclear program and detailed rapid Iranian progress in two programs that the West fears are geared toward making nuclear weapons. The report says that Tehran has upgraded its uranium enrichment facilities by installing close to 700 high-tech centrifuges which can produce the core of nuclear weapons. It also said Tehran had added hundreds of older-generation machines at its main enrichment site to bring the total number to more than 13,000. The report also noted that Iran has been paving over areas at the Parchin site where alleged experiments with test blasts took place.
(Washington Post, May 22)
- According to customs data released by South Korea, the country has reduced the volume of its oil imports from Iran by 50%.
(Radio Farda, May 16)
- Iran has seen an increase of 46% in foreign investment compared to last year, with the majority of these foreign investments in the mining sector, which includes mining, oil and gas. On the other hand, Iran also reports that sanctions have had a 20-30% impact on the economy. Furthermore, Gholam Reza Mesbahi Moghaddam, head of the Majlis Budget and Planning Committee, said that the Iranian government agrees with halving projected oil revenues in the 2013/14 budget. That budget was based on the export of 2.3 million barrels per day (bpd), but Iran's sales fell to about half that amount.
(Iran News Network; FA News; MEHR News, April 1)
- A partial tally of the business between U.S. companies and Iran for 2012 found a distrubingly high amount of trade. US-listed companies made more than $540 million in gross revenue and $15.5 million in profits from their business with Iran in 2012 — and that's only counting 30 or so large companies that made disclosures since mid-February 2013. While the numbers underscore the difficulty of maintaining tight sanctions in a global economy they also hide a lot of nuance and variation: Companies based outside the US accounted for 99% of the revenue and three-quarters of the profit; $414 million in revenue came from Statoil ASA, the Norwegian oil and gas company that works with the National Iranian Oil Company; biggest disclosure by a US company came from auto-parts maker TRW Automotive Holdings, which said it collected $8.3 million in revenue and $377,000 in profits from non-US subsidiaries that sold products to Iranian companies. Dell, the Texas computer company, disclosed a whopping $169.90 in revenue from Iran.
(Quartz, March 28)
- Trade between the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Iran fell by nearly a third from 2011 to 2012 as Western sanctions finally began to affect this main avenue of trade for the Islamic Republic. Iran and the UAE have been close trade partners for decades. While banks in the UAE were slow to initally follow suit with sanctions, given their dependence on the strong revenue stream during the tough times since the financial crisis triggered a collapse in the real estate markets of Dubai and then Abu Dhabi, years of U.S. lobbying has led to more strictly enforced regulations.
(Financial Times, March 26)
- While South Korea announced that it has dramatically decreased the pace of its crude-oil imports from Iran, Chinese officials say that their Iranian oil imports continue unabated. Imports of oil by Southe Korea were down 30% in February 2013 compared with February 2012 and down 25% versus January 2013, according to preliminary data from state-run Korea National Oil Corp. China, meanwhile, saw its imports from Iran rise by 2.7% in the first two months of 2013 after rising by 74% on year to 2 million tons.
(Wall Street Journal, March 22)
- Fifty-six members of the U.S. House of Representatives sent a letter to Treasury Secretary Jack Lew and Secretary of State John Kerry urging them to take action against Iranian reflagging, a tactic that Iran uses to disguise the origin of vessels carrying illicit goods to and from Iran. The letter, sponsored by Reps. Peter Roskam (R-IL) and Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL), calls on State and Treasury to "seriously consider sanctioning registries that knowingly participate in efforts to reflag oil tankers and cargo vessels" operated by designated Iranian companies.
(House of Representatives, March 13)
- According to a report from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Iranian oil shipments advanced 13 percent in February 2013 even as the U.S. implemented additional sanctions complicating sales from the Islamic Republic. Countries purchased 1.28 million barrels a day from Iran that month, compared with an 1.13 million barrels daily in January 2013. "The only thing clear is that the current stalemate between Iran and the West is unsustainable," the IEA said in the report. "Sooner or later, something has to give."
(Bloomberg News, March 13)
- An investigation conducted by the federal prosecutor's office of Germany revealed that Iranian front companies based in Istanbul had transported 941 items with nuclear applications through Turkey. According to the report, German police detected that materials with nuclear applications obtained in Germany and India were transported to the Mitech company in Iran through Turkey by an Iranian national, Hossein Tanideh. Mitech is under US and European Union-imposed sanctions. Turkish police found out that 91 items with nuclear applications were sent, on seven occasions, to Iran from Germany via Turkey, while 856 nuclear items were sent, on four occasions, from India to Iran via Turkey.
(Today's Zaman, March 12)
- Trade between Iran and China dropped by 18 percent in 2012, to $37 billion, due to a number of banking sanctions imposed on the Islamic republic. "Iran-China trade fell to $37 billion in 2012 from $45 billion in 2011," Assadollah Asgaroladi, director of the Sino-Iranian Chamber of Commerce, was quoted as saying. "Iranian exporters and importers who are seeking increase in trade volume are facing banking problems."
(Agence France-Presse, March 4)
- A Chinese businessman indicted in the United States over sales of missile parts to Iran is still making millions of dollars from the trade, say security officials who monitor compliance with Western and U.N. sanctions. Businessman Li Fangwei has earned at least $10 million from illegal sales to Iran since his indictment by the New York County District Attorney in 2009. Li's alleged activities may point to Iran's ability to circumvent Western sanctions. A U.S. State Department official said Li had been sanctioned because of his "proliferation to Iran" since 2009.
(Reuters, March 1)
- Bipartisan legislation was introduced to both Houses of the U.S. Congress calling for greatly expanded sanctions on Iran, amounting to what would potentially be a commercial trade embargo if fully carried out. The measure looks to build on existing laws that restrict business dealings with Iran, widen the list of blacklisted Iranian companies and individuals and potentially block Iran's access to foreign bank assets held in euros. The legislation - called the Nuclear Iran Prevention Act - would also penalize foreign companies and individuals that violate the American sanctions by threatening them with restrictions on doing business with the United States.
(New York Times, February 27)
- A bipartisan group of 36 U.S. Senators - including Diane Feinstein [D-CA] and Marco Rubia [R-FL] - wrote a strongly-worded letter to the European Council, urging the bank to deny Iran access to its Euro-denominated foreign exchange reserves by stopping the Islamic Republic from using the "Target2" clearing system. "We are writing to request your immediate support in close a significant loophole in US-EU sanctions policy," said the letter. "We strongly urge you to take all necessary measures to immediately cut off Iran's ability to use its foreign-held euros by prohibiting direct or indirect access to Target2 services by or on behalf of accounts owned or controlled by the Government of Iran or its affiliates. We are concerned that these euro conversions in turn free up significant funds to finance Iranian imports, stabilise Iran's monthly budget and allows the regime to continue to engage in sanctionable and illicit activities."
(The Telegraph, February 26)
- According to details released from a confidential report of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Iran has already begun installing roughly 180 advanced IR-2M centrifuges at its main uranium enrichment plant in Natanz. While the centrifuges were not yet operational, such machines could enable Iran to significantly speed up its accumulation of material that could be used to make a nuclear weapon. Iran alerted the IAEA in January 2013 of its intention to upgrade the Natanz enrichment facilities.
(Jerusalem Post, February 22)
- According to a Gallup poll conducted in Iran during December 2012, a majority of Iranians (56%) say sanctions the United Nations, the U.S., and Western Europe imposed on the Islamic Republic have hurt their personal livelihoods a great deal. However, a majority of Iranians (63%) are also seemingly willing to pay the high price of sanctions and say that Iran should continue to develop its nuclear program, even given the scale of sanctions. One in two Iranians supported their country developing its own nuclear power capabilities for nonmilitary uses. Only 1 in 10 Iranians says their own government is most to blame for sanctions.
(Gallup World, February 11)
- Iran announced the purchase of two oil supertankers from China, each having the cargo carrying capacity of 2 million barrels of crude oil, and three other smaller ships which all joined the Iranian fleet at the begining of 2013. The Atlantis and the Infinity oil tankers were part of a $ 1.2 million agreement between Iran and Chinese shipbuilding companies signed in 2009, under which 12 oil tankers are to be built.
(Iranian Students' News Agency, February 8)
- With sanctions still hurting Iranian oil exports to the West, the Islamic Republic and Pakistan announced the start of construction on a gas pipeline scheduled to be completed by December 2015. The Iran-Pakistan pipeline, projected to cost $1.2-1.5 billion, will export 21.5 million cubic meters of Iranian natural gas per day to Pakistan when it comes on stream. Iran has pledged to secure $500 million to complete the Pakistani section of the project and the rest will be provided by the Pakistani government.
(Tehrantimes.com/component/content/article/105473" target="_blank">Tehran Times, February 7)
- A European Union court ruled that the EU should lift sanctions it imposed on one of Iran's largest banks, the second such judgment that could complicate Western efforts to increase pressure on the Islamic Republic. In its ruling, the EU's General Court said the EU had failed to provide sufficient evidence that Bank Saderat was involved in Iran's nuclear program when the bloc targeted it with sanctions starting in July 2010. Earlier, the court issued a similar ruling about of Bank Mellat, the biggest private sector lender in Iran.
(Reuters, February 6)
- In a letter dated January 23, the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) informed the United Nations that it was planning to upgrade its uranium enrichment plant at Natanz by installing more advanced centrifuges, the IR2M. The new centifuge can enrich two or three times faster than the present equipment being used by Tehran, according to the Associated Press. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) sent a letter to member states saying Iran had informed the agency of its plans to use the improved machines at its fuel enrichment plant in Natanz.
(BBC News, January 31)
- Industry sources, quoting shipping and customs data, said that Iran's crude oil exports in December 2012 were at their highest level since the imposition of European Union sanctions on Iran's energy sector in Summer 2012. Experts warned that increased demand from China, India and Japan have allowed the Islamic Republic to boost its exports. Overall, Western sanctions against Iran have succeeded in halving Iran's oil exports from 2011 to 2012, causing the loss of billions of dollars in revenue, however there is no consensus whether the sanctions are actually affecting Iran's nuclear program. "We continue to engage in close consultations with our international partners on U.S. sanctions with the objective of maintaining pressure on Iran to comply with its international obligations," said U.S. State Department spokesman John Finn.
(Reuters, January 31)
- Japanese police arrested two men and one woman for sending money to an Iranian shipping company in violation of sanctions against the Islamic Republic. The funds are believed to have been wired to a firm that is involved with Iran's nuclear weapons program. The three suspects, who work for the Ben Line Agencies Japan shipping company, have denied the charges that they sent 14 million yen (~$160,000) to a Singapore-based company with known connections to the government-backed Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines (IRISL). Investigators say these are Japan’s first arrests made in relation to sanctions on Iran.
(Japan Daily Press, January 23)
- Vali Nasr, dean of the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University in Washington D.C., said during the World Economic Forum in Davos that the sanctions regime against Iran over its nuclear activity "really has reached its end." He later added, "you really are looking at a scenario where Iran is going to rush very quickly towards nuclear power, because they also think, like North Korea, that (then) you have much more leverage to get rid of these sanctions."
(Associated Press, January 23)
- Adam Szubin, director the US Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control, which supervises American enforcement of sanctions on Iran, said that despite the economic sanctions levied against the Islamic Republic, Tehran is still finding some ways to bypass them. Szubin noted that the Iranians were using private exchange houses and trading companies in other countries, masking transactions with fake identities and relying on the paperless practice known as hawala, common in parts of the Middle East and Asia, in which money is transferred informally and often illegally through trustworthy couriers. “This is an evolving and emerging threat,” Szubin said. “Two years ago we saw little of this because Iran was able to find banks that were able to handle its business.”
(New York Times, January 10)
- Israeli Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz visited Washington to press senior US officials to lay out a tougher line on the Islamic Republic’s nuclear activities. The time has come for President Barack Obama to give Iran a “very clear ultimatum, very clear deadline combined with a very credible also military threat” Steinitz told a group of reporters before planned meetings with Secretary Timothy F. Geithner and other administration officials. Steinitz said he would discuss with Geithner and other White House and State Department officials what Israel perceives as loopholes in sanctions and Iran’s efforts to subvert legal restrictions.
(Jerusalem Post, January 8)
- Gholam Reza Kateb, head of the Iranian parliament’s budget committee, said oil exports have dropped 40 percent in the last nine months and revenues from the oil and gas exports have dropped by 45 percent. He said the reduction is in direct correlation to the sanctions levied on Iran over its nuclear program. Despite the significant hit to Iran's economy, its leaders have given no indication that they might give in to the pressure and scale back their nuclear development program.
(Washington Post, January 7)
- On January 3, US President Barack Obama signed into law the 2013 National Defense Authorization Act, including additional sanctions levied against Iranian energy, shipping and shipbuilding sectors as well as Iran's ports, blacklisting them as "entities of proliferation concern." The bill, HR 4310, passed both houses of the Congress in December 2012 and was signed by President Obama without amendment on any of the Iran-related sections. The bill also imposes penalties on anyone caught supplying precious metals to Iran and sanctions on Iranian broadcasting. Additionally, the billI targets the state broadcast network, called the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting, which the law says violated human rights by broadcasting forced confessions and show trials. The law orders the U.S. Treasury to slap sanctions on Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting and its president, Ezzatollah Zargami.
(Wall Street Journal, January 3)
- The U.S. put new sanctions on Iran that targeted a handful of companies and individuals purportedly giving materials and technology to Iran's nuclear program. Among those targeted are Professor Fereydoun Abbasi Davani, who heads the Iran Atomic Energy Organization. The companies on this sanctions list are: FaraTech, the Neda Industrial Group, Aria Nikan Marine Industry, Towled Abzar Boreshi, Iran Pouya, Terjerat Gostar, and Tarh O Palayesh.
(CNN, December 14)
- Canada amended its Special Economic Measures: Iran Regulations to list an additional 98 entities associated with the Iranian regime as designated persons. The amendment increases the pressure on entities that support Iran's nuclear program including but not limited to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps and the Basij paramilitary organization. These measures also target economic sectors that indirectly support or provide funding to the Iranian nuclear program, such as oil and gas, mining, metals, and shipping. Finally, the amended regulations help further to isolate Iran from the global financial infrastructure.
(CTV News, December 11)
- The U.S. Senate unanimously approved new sanctions on Iran's energy, port, shipping and non-shipping sectors in yet another move to pressure Tehran over its nuclear program. "We must be clear to the Iranians that toughing it out and waiting it out is not an option, that it will only get worse," said Democratic Senator Robert Menendez, who co-sponsored the sanctions bill with Republic Senator Mark Kirk and Independent Senator Joe Lieberman. The sanctions include measures aimed at stopping the flow of gold from Turkey to Iran but maintains exemptions for countries that have yet to make significant cuts to their purchases of Iranian crude oil.
(Haaretz, November 30)
- In late November, Turkish Deputy Prime Minister and top economic policy make Ali Babacan announced that his country has sidestepped US and European sanctions against Iran by paying for natural gas imports with gold. "In essence, gold exports [to Iran] end up like payments for our natural gas purchases," Mr. Babacan said. "Turkey is depositing the payment for the gas we purchase from Iran to Iran's account in Turkey." Western sanctions against the Iranian energy sector bans the Islamic Republic from receiving payments for gas exports in dollars or euros and Turkey's announcement sheds light on how countries breach the international sanctions regime.
(Wall Street Journal, November 23)
- The U.S. Treasury Department imposed sanctions on 17 Iranian individuals and entities involved in the government's censorship activities and support for terrorism. They include Ali Fazli, deputy commander of the Basig militia that has attacked websites; Reza Taghipour, minister of communications and information technology, who was responsible for jamming satellite television and blocking internet connectivity; and Rasool Jalili, who was involved in trying to obtain Internet monitoring equipment. Iran's Center to Investigate Organized Crime was also sanctioned for helping the government censor websites and identify opposition activists, while the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance as well as the Iranian Press Supervisory Board were also sanctioned.
(Bloomberg, November 8)
- The European Union banned the import of Iranian natural gas into EU countries in an effort to raise the pressure on Iran in hope of enticing the country to come to the negotiating table ready to discuss its nuclear program in earnest. This latest step is part of a new round of sanctions against Iran's banking, shipping, and industrial sectors. In the announcement, EU ministers expressed "serious and deepening concerns" over Iran's nuclear progress and underlined that "the restrictive measures agreed [to] are aimed at affecting Iran's nuclear program and revenues of the Iranian regime to fund its program and are not aimed at the Iranian people."
- A leading European satellite provider took 19 Iranian television and radio broadcasters off the air due to EU sanctions punishing human rights abusers.
- The International Monetary Fund (IMF) projected that Iran will be able to lower its currently high inflation rate despite Western-imposed sanctions. According to the IMF's semi-annual World Economic Outlook, Iran's economy will not collapse as a result of the strong rounds of economic sanctions, even though they are hurting its oil exports severely. However, much of the IMF analysis is based on information provided by the Iranian government, which may not be entirely accurate. Additionally, the report was filed before the Iranian currency, the rial, plummeted by roughly a third against the dollar in a mere 10 days through October 2. Nevertheless, IMF experts estimate that Iranian unemployment will decline next year and that the country will experience a surplus of 2.4% GDP this year and 1.3% next year.
- In spite of the European Union's inclusion of Iran on its sanctions list, the German Academic Exchange Service (or Deutscher Akademischer Austausch Dienst, i.e. DAAD) signed a memorandum of understanding with Iran's Science, Research, and Technology ministry. DAAD acts with the approval of Germany's Foreign Ministry, so this latest development seems to indicate an uneven policy from Berlin vis-a-vis Iran's nuclear program.
- Iranian chief nuclear scientist Fereydoon Abbasi admitted to the Arabic daily newspaper Al-Hayat that the Iranian government has repeatedly in the past provided false information to international agencies such as the IAEA in order to protect its nuclear program. Abbasi did not specify the nature of the false information nor did he say when it had been presented. Accusing foreign intelligence services, such as Britain's MI6 of spying on Iran's nuclear program, Abbasi said, "We presented false information sometimes in order to protect our nuclear position and our achievements, as there is no other choice but to mislead foreign intelligence ... sometimes we present a weakness that we do not in fact really have, and sometimes we appear to have power without having it.”
- Despite sanctions aimed at slowing Iranian progress to develop nuclear weapons, a report released by the IAEA shows that Iran added 1,076 centrifuges to their Fordow enrichment facility, which already had 1,064. Additionally, the Islamic Republic has now amassed nearly 438 pounds of 20% enriched uranium at both the Fordow and Natanz plants. At the same time, Iran is sharply increasing its capability to produce more rapidly the 20% enriched uranium and to go even higher to the 90%, weapons-grade level.
- The United States extended exemptions from sanctions on business with Iran to Japan and 10 European countries because they have significantly reduced their purchases of petroleum from the Islamic Republic. The US originally granted these 11 nations exemptions from sanctions in March 2012 as a way of forcing them to reduce their reliance on Iranian oil. The new extensions will enable banks in Belgium, Britain, Czech Republic, Frnace, Germany, Greece, Italy, Netherlands, Poland, Spain and Japan to continue working with Iran without facing penalties for at least another 180 days.
- Despite what the United States and European Union call some of the toughest economic sanctions ever imposed, Iran is still finding legal ways to sell or barter oil to its most important markets in Asia. To continue selling crude oil to India, Tehran is accepting payment in rice, medicine, engineering supplies and steel. To sell to China, the Islamic Republic is delivering the oil on its own tankers backed by state insurance, not on the commercial tankers used in the past. And to deliver to Japan, Iran is having the Japanese furnish the multibillion-dollar marine insurance its ships need to carry Iranian oil.
- Russia and China joined the four major Western powers - the U.S., France, Germany and Britain - at an IAEA meeting to increase diplomatic pressure on Iran regarding its nuclear weapons program. The six world powers agreed on a draft resolution at the U.N. nuclear agency that admonishes Iran over its ever-growing uranium enrichment program and elucidates their preference for a peaceful resolution to the current dispute.
- The European Union began consideration of a new round of sanctions against Iran due to its continued drive towards amassing a nuclear weapons capability. Despite Russian protests that sanctions have become "extra-territorial" in nature and are harming its own business interests, EU foreign ministers spoke of the need to increase pressure on Iran for failing to make progress in negotations over it nuclear program. French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said, "we consider unacceptable, highly dangerous, the prospect of Iran possessing nuclear weapons." "Atomic weapons in Iran are not acceptable," added German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle.
- Prosecutors in the United States believe they unearthed evidence in recent international money-transfer investigations that Chinese banks have flouted Western sanctions against Iran by funnelling billions of dollars through US and UK branches. The two London-based banks, HSBC and Standard Chartered, have extensive business in Asia and executives refused to comment on the allegations.
- Documents obtained by the UK's The Sunday Telegraph in Quito, Ecuador, reveal that detailed plans were drawn up to establish substantial banking mechanisms between Ecuador and Iran, even though they lie 8,000 miles apart and have only the tiniest of trade links. Thenew financial ties have prompted suspicions that the real intention is to help Tehran circumvent sanctions by channelling funds through Quito. "The trading links between the two countries are marginal, so this new orientation by our government can only be explained in ideological terms or hidden deals," said Cesar Montufar, an opposition leader who first helped reveal the Iranian ties last month.
- Iran began constructing a $300 million anti-aircraft missile base near the Southern Iranian city of Abadeh; the facility is scheduled to host 7 battalions, according to at top commander. Furthermore, Iranian Defense Minister General Ahmad Vahidi said by March 2013, Iran will commission a new generation of fighter jets, missiles, unmanned drones and submarines.
- German police arrested four men suspeced of delivering valves for a heavy water nuclear reactor to Iran, breaking a European embargo on such exports to the Islamic Republic. "In 2010 and 2011 the suspects are believed to have helped in the delivery of special valves for the construction of a heavy water reactor in Iran and therefore to have broken the Iran embargo," prosecutors said in a statement on Wednesday.
- President Barack Obama signed an Executive Order authorizing expanded sanctions on Iran through the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) to make sanctionable the conducting or facilitating of business with a private of public foreign financial institution for the purchase of Iranian oil. This sanction is designed to deter Iran or any other country from establishing payment mechanisms for the purchase of Iranian oil to circumvent the NDAA sanctions. Additionally, existing sanctions on Iran’s petrochemical industry are expanded by making sanctionable significant transactions for the purchase or acquisition of Iranian petrochemical products.Mark Dubowitz of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies explains the timing: “To demonstrate that the administration can be proactive and not just reactionary on sanctions and to deal with the criticism that Congress has forced the administration into adopting the most forceful measures which, after initially rejecting, the administration is now embracing enthusiastically and touting their efficacy.”
- U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta acknowledged that increasingly stiff international sanctions have yet to compel Iran to give up its nuclear ambitions. “These sanctions are having a serious impact in terms of the economy in Iran,” Panetta told reporters during a visit in Tunisia. “And while the results of that may not be obvious at the moment, the fact is that they have expressed a willingness to negotiate and they continue to seem interested in trying to find a diplomatic solution,” he said. Panetta also argued that more pressure eventually would lead Iran to “do what’s right.”
- The International Institute for Strategic Studies released a report that said sanctions on Iran - specifically those imposed by the United States since December 2011 and by the United Nations Security Council since Junee 2010 - have stymied efforts by the Islamic Republic to develop and produce long-range ballistic missiles capable of striking potential targets in western Europe and beyond. The report noted that sanctions have not worked to slow uraniun enrichment processes or prevented Iran from stockpiling fissile material, however, without access to the key propellant ingredients and components needed to produce large solid-propellant rocket motors, Iran will be halted in its ability to produce the weapons.
- An Israeli legal organization warned British satellite company Immarsat that it would pursue legal action against the company if it continued to provide guidance systems to Iranian commerical and military vehicles. According to the Shurat HaDin, the Ramat Gan-based legal group, Immarsat continues to provide critical services to Iran despite sanctions on such business imposed by the United States and European Union. A letter to Immarsat stated that Shurat HaDin wrote told the company to stop providing mobile satellites or risk “civil liability from American citizens or others who suffer as a result of Iran’s international sponsorship of terrorism.”
- The United States imposes additional sanctions on Iran's nuclear and ballistic missile proliferation networks, aiming to prevent the Islamic Republic from evading the effects of sanctions by targeting individuals, companies, and banks that do businesss with Iran. The Treasury and State Departments designated 11 entities and 4 individuals as part of a network of proliferators headed by Iran’s Ministry of Defense for Armed Forces Logistics (MODAFL) and its subsidiary, Aerospace Industries Organization (AIO). The new sanctions also publicly exposed numerous front companies, ships and banks that work for the government of Iran.
- A list released of German companies conducting bilateral trade with Iran, including the selling of "dual-use" products, shows that trade continued unabate between the two countries until at least the end of calendar year 2011. Merchandize that can be used for military and civilian purposes falls under the rubric of “dual-use” goods. Germany is part of the P5+1 who have been making efforts to sanction the Islamic Republic, however Germany’s Federal Statistical Office said that bilateral trade with Iran in 2011 totaled nearly 4 billion Euros.
- South Korea announced that it will halt all oil imports from Iran as a result of the EU ban on insuring shipments of Iranian crude. South Korea’s government had been in talks with the EU to extend exemptions for South Korea, which imported about 9 percent of its oil from Iran in 2011, however the EU Council said exemptions from Iran sanctions will end on July 1 as scheduled. In 2011, South Korea imported 87 million barrels of Iranian rude, up 20 percent from 2010.
- The European Union agreed that the oil ban against Iran will come into force as planned on July 1. Commenting on the move, UK Foreign Secretary William Hague said: "Today the EU has agreed that the oil ban against Iran will come into force as planned on the 1 July. This is an important step and one for which the UK Government has argued strongly ... these restrictive measures are the toughest ever adopted against the Iranian Government. They reflect the international community’s resolve, and our determination, to intensify the peaceful pressure on Iran until it starts to build confidence that its nuclear programme is purely peaceful."
- Records released in China showed that the Asian country more than doubled its imports of Iranian oil during April and May of 2012, a spike that effectively reverses the belief that China was starting to fall in line with Western efforts to sanction Iran. Shippers in China, as well, have begun to capitalize on the Western sanctions, increasing their business with Iran and guaranteeing the Islamic republic's crude export shipments.
- The IAEA released a report that confirmed Iran is still moving ahead with its uranium enrichment work in defiance of Security Council resolutions and despite Western efforts to impose sanctions in order to cut off Iran's nuclear program.. The IAEA report shows than Iran has significantly increased its production of 3.5% low-enriched uranium (has amassed nearly 750kg more than what was reported in the previous IAEA report), that it continues to stock 19.75% low-enriched uranium, and that its IR-1 centrifruge performance is increasing. According to independent analysis by the Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS), the report means that Iran has enough enriched uranium to fill five nuclear bombs if refined much further.
- China imported nearly 390,000 barrels of Iranian oil per day, a 48% from March 2012, after imports had dropped earlier in the year. China's imports shows that Beijing remains a steady customer despite U.S. efforts to tighten sanctions on Tehran.
- The United Kingdom was said to be persuading EU countries to delay implementation of sanctions against companies providing insurance to tankers carrying oil from Iran. Britain fears that the ban on insurance could lead to a dramatic spike in oil prices which would significantly damage the already weak European economy. The EU ban, meant to take effect July 1, would prevent European insurers from covering ships carrying Iranian crude anywhere in the world in an effort to stem the influx of money to Iran and thus force it to halt it nuclear program. "Britain will be pushing the EU to postpone the ban on protection and indemnity insurance by six month," said one diplomatic source.
- An Oxfam report and data released by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute showed that Iran has imported over £350 million worth of weapons over the past three years, despite being subject to international sanctions. The country's success in " in tapping the international arms market showed the ineffectiveness of current restrictions." The UN Security Council, back in 2007, had requested countries to "exercise restraint" in supplying arms to Iran.
- Switzerland decided against sanctioning Iran's central bank or imposing an embargo on Iranian oil, failing to follow in the footsteps of the EU. The Swiss Economics Committee said that the country would not follow the EU in freezing the assets of the Iranian central bank "due to its importance for the Iranian economy." While Switzerland does not directly import Iranian oil, the Swiss position could impact the activities of oil companies based in the trading hub of Geneva.
- A survey of Iran's shipping fleet showed that only seven of its 25 very large crude carriers were operating on-board transponders, which allow computers to track vessels. Going "off-radar," Iran is showing another way it is developed to sidestep international sanctions against the regime. Ships are obliged by international law to have a satellite tracking device on board when travelling at sea, but with them turned off it is increasingly difficult to gauge how much is moving out of the country's main terminal at Kharg Island.
- An intelligence report released by an independent energy policy group showed that Greece could become the achilles heal to EU efforts to cut out all Iranian oil imports. Over the past two years, Greece's oil imports from Iran have spiked to just under 200,000 barrels per day and Iran's share of Greece's crude imports has more than doubled (26% to 53%) as other countries have shied away from the economically unstable Greece. The intelligence report also noted that Spain and Italy, two other EU member nations, have become increasingly dependent on Iranian oil imports. These three countries consume nearly 90% of Iran's total oil exports to the European mainland, a factor that could eventually lead to the failure of EU sanctions.
- The United States granted exemptions to Japan and ten European countries from the sanctions passed by President Obama that called for punitive measures to be taken against any country that continued doing business with Iran. These eleven nations were given breathing room on the sanctions because they showed a significant reduction in their imports of Iranian oil, however by granting the exemptions the U.S. has underscored the difficulty in fully implementing any santions meant to freeze the Iranian economy and force them to abandon their nuclear program.
- Pakistan emerged as an enhanced importer of Iranian oil and has proceeded with plans to build a natural gas pipeline to the Islamic Republic, despite warnings from US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that this would interfere with the West's sanctions. “We can’t afford to be selective where we receive our energy supplies from,” Pakistan Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar said Thursday. “It is in our national interest to get energy from wherever we can.”
- The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) published a study confirming that the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Line (IRISL) has renamed nearly a quarter of its shipping fleet (90 out 123 vessels) in order to evade international sanctions. Additionally, the company has reflagged many of its ships so that shippers and maritime security agencies do not know they are moving Iranian vessels. Additionally, SIPRI noted that Iranian weapons smugglers are using respectable shipping companies out of Europe to move illegal weapons into Iran; though this was mostly done without the consent or knowledge of the companies.
- India, the world's fourth-largest oil consumer, said it would not take steps to cut oil and petroleum imports from Iran despite the US and European sanctions. "It is not possible for India to take any decision to reduce the imports from Iran drastically, because among the countries which can provide the requirement of the emerging economies, Iran is an important country amongst them," Indian Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee said.
- In November 2011, the EU was shown to account for nearly 20% of all Iranian oil purchases in the first half of 2011, which helped to nullify the effects of any sanctions imposed against the Islamic regime. Italy, Spain and France were the leading purchasers of Iranian oil in 2011.
- In August 2011, Iran received 1 billion euros ($ 1.4 billion) from India for overdue oil debts. Indian refiners expect Iran to resume 400,000 barrels a day of oil exports in September 2011, since India began paying its debt that Iran Deputy Oil Minister Ahmad Qalebani said amounted to $4.8 billion.
- A January 2011 examination of German government trade statistics revealed that German export trade to Iran increased from $4,159,920,000 between January and October 2009 to $4,175,687,000 during the same time period in 2010. Iranian imports to Germany climbed to $909,176 between January and October 2010 when compared to $574,261 during the identical time frame in 2009.
- At the start of 2011, Iran was the second largest OPEC exporter, after Saudi Arabia, and during January - November 2010 generated revenues of $64 billion, an $11 billion increase over the full-year 2009 figure. Iran has also been chosen by OPEC members for the cartel's 2011 presidency.
- Swiss energy giant EGL signed a 25-year deal with the National Iranian Gas Export Company to buy 5.5 billion cubic meters of Iranian natural gas per year, starting in 2011, for approximately $20 billion.
- A July 2010 AFP report revealed China has invested an estimated $40 billion in Iran's oil and gas sector. According to Iran's Deputy Oil Minister, “The volume [of Chinese investment] in upstream projects is 29 billion dollars.” He also added that China signed contracts worth an additional $10 billion in petrochemicals, refineries and oil and gas pipeline projects.
- In January 2010, a top Russian arms trade official said Russia still considered Iran a valuable customer for its weapons and that no international agreements bar Russia from selling weapons to Tehran. In June 2010, despite the passing of UN Security Council Resolution 1929, Russia still said sanctions do not forbid the delivery of S-300 air-defense missiles to Iran.
- As of January 2010, there were around 1,000 Italian companies active in Iran, including Fiat, Ansaldo, Eni, Danieli, Duferco, and Maire Tecnimont, which signed a €200 million (~$287 million) gas deal with Iran. Other Italian companies, such as Carlo Gavazzi Space, have even equipped the regime's military and contributed to Iran's satellite program.
- From 2000-2010, the U.S. Treasury Department granted nearly 10,000 special licenses to American companies so they could sell products in Iran and other countries the U.S. considers sponsors of terrorism. Most of the licenses were granted under a law allowing trade in humanitarian goods, though they included products as diverse as cigarettes and chewing gum.
- Chinese state companies began supplying petrol to Iran in September 2009 and now provide up to one-third of its imports.
- On September 11, 2009, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov made clear that Moscow would not be involved in any new rounds of sanctions against Iran in the UN Security Council and dismissed a U.S. timetable for securing progress from Iran on ending its nuclear-fuel program.
- On September 6, 2009, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez sealed an agreement to export 20,000 barrels per day of gasoline to Iran.
- Between 2000 and 2009, the U.S. government awarded over $107 billion in contract payments, grants and other benefits to foreign and multinational American companies engaged in business with Iran.
- German petrochemical company Basell Polyolefine signed a €825 million trade deal with Iran on June 8, 2009 to supply technology to build three plants involving synthetic and plastic material.
- On June 3, 2009, Iran signed a $4.7 billion contract with the Chinese National Petroleum Company to develop part of South Pars, the world's largest reservoir of gas that is shared by Iran and Qatar.
- Between January and July 2009, trade between the 27 European Union countries and Iran amounted to some €10 billion (about $14 billion).
- On December 2, 2008, Malaysia signed a $14 billion deal with Iran for the construction of two natural gas liquification plants as well as two gas fields. The two countries signed a multi-billion dollar gas deal in 2007.
- Iranian students study abroad in Germany, France, Canada, Australia and the United Kingdom. The Association of American Universities is seeking to pave the way for a bilateral education program with Iran. University presidents from Carnegie Mellon, Rice, Maryland and Cornell, Florida and UC Davis visited Tehran in November 2008 with the blessing of the U.S. State Department to discuss student exchange programs.
- Russia's trade relationship with Iran directly ignores the Security Council Resolution. In August 2008, the Russian oil corporation, Gazprom, signed a multi-billion dollar deal to help Iran cultivate its oil and gas fields. French and Japanese oil companies were candidates at one point, but dropped out of dealings with Iran because of international pressure. Russia has also been building a nuclear plant in Iran, which is now expected to begin operating in 2009.
- On November 27, 2008, German and Iranian business leaders began a conference in Hamburg called “Iran Sanctions: Practical Consequence for German Firms.” The purpose of the conference was to improve German business relations in Iran as well as the German and Iranian political relationship.
- In August, 2008, a German corporation signed a $150 million deal with Iran to build natural gas liquification plants in the country. The German Economics Ministry maintains that the trading of natural gas to Iran does not violate Security Council Resolution 1737.
- Germany's Federal Statistical Office released data showing exports to Iran increased 10 percent over the first three quarters of 2008. Germany's exports to Iran are expected to total 4 million euros this year, close to the record it set in 2004 and 2005. During the first seven months of 2008, the German government approved 1,926 transactions with Iran, a 63 percent increase over last year. This has further cemented Germany's position as Iran's largest trade partner.
- Even the United States has engaged in trade with Iran. According to the Department of Agriculture, Iran has bought more than one million tons of wheat from the United States since the beginning of the 2008-9 crop season.
- In January 2008, Iran and Italy’s electric company, Edison International, signed an oil exploration deal for $107 million.
2000 - 2007:
- In April 2007, Austrian oil company OMV signed a 22 billion euro agreement to produce liquefied natural gas from Iran's South Pars gas field.
- Turkey has maintained trade ties with Iran. In 2005, bilateral trade between Iran and Turkey equaled $4 billion, a figure expected to grow to $10 billion in 2008. Iran and Turkey have agreed to continue their relationship and hope to increase their bilateral trade revenue to $20 billion per year.
- China has also increased its volume of trade with Iran. Between 2000 and 2005, the amount of Chinese imports into Iran increased by 360%. Iran’s Deputy Minister of Commerce, Mehdi Ghazanfari, predicts that exchanges between Iran and China for the year 2008 will total $25 billion. China also negotiated a $16 billion deal to develop Iran’s northern Pars gas field.
- Iran retains strong relations with Pakistan and is working on a “peace pipe” that would transfer natural gas between Iran, Pakistan and India.
- Iran is the United Arab Emirates’ largest non-oil trading partner.
- Oman and Bahrain have been negotiating with Iran to buy natural gas.
- Smugglers in Oman have taken advantage of their close proximity to Iran and have been able to ship needed cargo and goods to Iran, helping the Islamic regime obtain goods that have been sanctioned for sale from the west.
- The Persian Gulf Cooperation Council decided to consider a Free Trade Agreement with Iran. The agreement will lead to economic benefits for the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Kuwait.
- Austria's third-largest bank, Raiffeisen Zentralbank, remains active in Iran and has absorbed the transactions of other major European banks that shut down their operations in Iran.
- German engineering firm Aerzen secured a 21 million euro contract to supply a steel factory in Esfaham, Iran.
- Treasure Capital Bank, based in Minsk, Belarus, is the subsidiary of Bank Tejerat in Iran, sanctioned by the United States in January 2012.
All of the aforementioned nations maintain that they are not violating Security Council Resolution 1737. Trading with Iran and importing goods from the country cannot, the countries claim, contribute to Iran's threat of creating a nuclear bomb. Any investment in Iran, however, bolsters its economy and provides revenues that can directly or indirectly (by freeing up other resources) be used for nuclear weapons development.
Iran might not be discouraged from its goal of producing nuclear weapons by total compliance of all nations with existing sanctions, or even stricter sanctions, but it is evident that the present weak, unenforceable and widely ignored policy has not had the desired effect.
- AFP (August 25, 2008); (September 8, 2009); (September 10, 2012)
- Bloomberg (November 8, 2012)
- CNBC (August 30, 2012)
- Commentary Magazine (October 10, 2012)
- Der Spiegel (January 24, 2012)
- The Diplomat (June 14, 2012)
- European Jewish Congress
- Fars News Agency
- Financial Times (September 23, 2009)
- Foreign Policy, (December 8 2014); (January 23, 2015)
- Fox News(March 20, 2012)
- The Guardian (August 15, 2012)
- Gulf in the Media (January 22, 2011), (August 9, 2011);
- Haaretz (March 20, 2012)
- International Business Times (April 5, 2012)
- International Institute for Strategic Studies (July 30, 2012)
- Jerusalem Post (June 11, 2009), (Jan 28, 2010), (June 10, 2010), (July 31, 2010), (Jan 9, 2011); (Jan 30, 2012); (April 18, 2012); (July 9, 2012)
- The Jewish Journal (July 26, 2010)
- Los Angeles Times, (December 6, 2008); (September 14, 2012)
- New York Times (March 6, 2010), (December 23, 2010); (September 20, 2012)(January 12, 2014) (May 11, 2015)
- Reuters (Nov 27, 2008); (Dec 9, 2008); (Nov 24, 2011); (April 13, 2012), (April 22, 2012), (May 9, 2012); (May 26, 2012); (Sept 12, 2012); (October 9, 2012)
- The U.S. State Department (November 2008); (July 2012)
- The Telegraph (May 3, 2012); (August 29, 2012)
- The Times of Israel (July 25, 2012); (August 21, 2012); (October 15, 2012)
- The Wall Street Journal (Feb 6, 2009); (Sept 11, 2009); (Jan 14, 2010); (Jan 23, 2012); (May 21, 2012)
- The Washington Times (June 27, 2010)
- The Washington Post (June 26, 2012); (July 30, 2012); (August 1, 2012)
- UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office (June 26, 2012)
- Washington Institute for Near East Policy (January 7, 2011)
- Washington Post (January 24, 2012); (March 1, 2012); (September 11, 2012)
- Xinhua News (September 15, 2012)
- Ynet (January 28, 2010)