Iran (October 4, 2020)

Iran (October 4, 2020)



US Weighing Sanctions to Cripple Iran Humanitarian Trade

By Esfandyar Batmanghelidj

September 30, 2020

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


U.S. Sanction Plan for Iran Would Imperil Drug, Food Imports

Trump administration is considering targeting 14 Iranian banks

Proposal comes after years of growing U.S. pressure on Iran

By Golnar Motevalli

September 29, 2020

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


Punishing Iran wasn’t all it was cracked up to be

By Dan DePetris

October 1, 2020

Punishing Iran wasn’t all it was cracked up to be

„[…] The two-and-a-half-year strategy of squeezing the Iranian economy as tightly as a boa constrictor with a mouse has resulted in the exact opposite of what its proponents predicted. Iran’s political leadership isn’t crying “uncle!” It’s instead retaliating with maximum resistance of its own. […] To be fair, the Mark Dubowitzs of the world are not wrong about Iran’s economy contracting. Iran is indisputably crippled by the sanctions. The World Bank’s latest quarterly report on Iran’s economy finds that Tehran’s exports between 2019 and 2020 declined by over 30 percent. The International Monetary Fund projects Iran to lose 6 percent of its GDP by the end of this year. Iran’s oil industry has taken a beating, with crude exports plunging from 2.5 million barrels per day in May 2019 to as low as 400,000 bpd this month. Even Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has admitted how devastating the sanctions are; speaking on September 26, Rouhani claimed that Tehran has lost $150 billion since Washington withdrew from the nuclear deal and reimposed sanctions. But despite this, the Iranians are as resistant to altering their position today as they were three years earlier. Indeed, if anything, Iran has acquired additional leverage by increasing its enriched uranium stockpile tenfold. The only thing U.S. policy has achieved thus far is an Iran that is more aggressive about when and where to use military force, a resurgent camp of Iranian hardliners grabbing ever more power in Tehran, a constellation of rockets and mortars slamming into U.S. military facilities on a weekly basis, and an Iranian population that is scrounging for medical devices and pharmaceuticals at the same time COVID-19 continues to rage. None of this can even be remotely described as success. […]“


China Is Ready To Give Iran’s Oil Industry A Major Boost

By Simon Watkins

September 30, 2020

„[…] Originally, Norway’s Statoil started developing the Anaran oil field in 2003 and when oil was found in 2005 (in both Azar and Changuleh) it was joined by Russia’s Lukoil in developing the site. Lukoil pulled out of its 25 percent stake in the entire Anaran block in 2008/9 after various sanctions by the U.S. and E.U. countries were imposed, followed by Statoil from its 75 percent stake in 2011, after the sanctions were intensified. When the JCPOA was agreed in principle in 2015, a number of IOCs signed memoranda of understandings for fields in the Anaran block, either for singular or multiple fields, including Norway’s DNO, Thailand’s PTTEP, and Russia’s Gazprom Neft and Lukoil again. A corollary was that a preliminary agreement with Austria’s OMV was also reached to invest up to US$6 billion in a petrochemical plant at the Dehloran site. Given the unilateral withdrawal of the U.S. from the JCPOA in 2018 and the subsequent far-reaching sanctions imposed, Iran has been left to look for assistance from China and Russia, although Tehran wants to indigenize as much of the technology, equipment, and expertise as quickly as possible in the process. Specifically, this is to include using the expertise available in Iranian universities and similar academic institutions from their Chinese and Russian counterparts. […]“


Strategic partnership deal with China will mark new chapter in bilateral ties: Iran

By Press TV

October 1, 2020

„Congratulating China on its National Day, Iran has hailed strategic ties between the two countries, saying the partnership agreement that Tehran and Beijing are working to finalize will open a new chapter in bilateral relations.[…]“


How will Iran respond to closer Persian Gulf-Israel ties?

By Saeid Jafari

September 30, 2020

How will Iran respond to closer Persian Gulf-Israel ties?

„The normalization of ties between Israel and the Arab countries in the south of Persian Gulf has raised alarm bells for Iran. While in recent years Tehran has had a strong presence of friendly forces in the vicinity of Israel, now it is Tel Aviv that is encircling Iran more than ever. […] To conclude, it should be noted that the nature of Iran and Israel’s activities in the region is clearly different from one another. Iran, unlike Israel, is more accepted by the Arab public, and in fact it enjoys much more influence. Israel, on the other hand, has gained tacit acceptance by the ruling elites in Arab states more so than their societies. Tel Aviv has been attempting hard for a long time to normalize ist relations with the Arab states and replace the issue of Arab-Israeli or Muslim-Jewish conflict with an Iran-Arab conflict. However, while Israel’s actions in the Persian Gulf against Iran have not yet become a credible threat and have been limited to tightening the diplomatic and economic siege around Iran, a threat to Iran’s security in the Persian Gulf could accelerate Iran’s activities in Syria — something that makes a military conflict between regional powers in Syria more likely than ever.“


Zarif: World must force Israel to destroy its nuclear arsenal

By Tehran Times

October 3, 2020

„[…] The foreign minister noted that the world’s lone perpetrator of a nuclear attack “extends blind support to the sole possessor of nuclear arsenal in our region.” He referred to Israel as an outlaw regime that has openly threatened others with nuclear annihilation, while crying wolf about proliferation. “We also call on the General Assembly to declare as a binding norm of international law that a nuclear war cannot be won—and must never be fought,” he stated, adding that this should be followed by a long-overdue, concrete program for time-bound nuclear disarmament and provision of security assurances to non-nuclear-weapon states in the interim. The chief Iranian diplomat concluded his remarks by saying that “last year, $72.9 billion was spent on nuclear weapons—half of it by the U.S. alone. This is higher than the GDP of most countries. Just imagine if the billions wasted on instruments of global annihilation were allocated to help fund the fight against COVID-19.” Enough is enough, he added. […] Israel is not a signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and has refused to either confirm or deny the possession of nuclear weapons in its arsenal. The regime is believed to possess 200 nuclear warheads, making it the only country in West Asia that has nuclear weapons. This is while Iran has signed the NPT and its nuclear program is inspected regularly by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). The IAEA has in numerous occasions certified the peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear program. IAEA director-general Rafael Grossi has said that the UN nuclear watchdog carried out more than 400 inspections in Iran last year.[…]“


Iranian human rights lawyer wins ‘alternative Nobel prize’ from cell

By Jemma Slingo

October 1, 2020

„Imprisoned Iranian human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh has been awarded the Right Livelihood Award in recognition of her ‚unrelenting commitment to justice’. The prize, which is awarded by the Right Livelihood Foundation based in Stockholm, is known as the ‘alternative Nobel prize’ and celebrates those ‘offering practical and exemplary answers to the most urgent challenges facing us today’.[…]“



By Katherine Lawlor

The Institute for the Study of War (ISW) (Washington)

September 30, 2020

„Key Takeaway: Iraq’s popular protest movement, set to recommence on October 1, may incite intra-Iraqi violence and could present a risk to US personnel and facilities in Iraq. Iraq’s popular protest movement is planning to resume mass memorial protests on the one-year anniversary of the “October Revolution” protests; these demonstrations will continue to condemn government corruption, Iranian influence, poor government services, mass unemployment, and the failure of the Iraqi government to hold security forces accountable for the mass killing of protesters in 2019. Iranian proxy militias and followers of nationalist Shi’a cleric Moqtada al-Sadr are likely planning to infiltrate the anniversary protests and use them to achieve their own objectives. This co-optation of the otherwise largely peaceful protest movement may spark clashes between Sadrists, Iranian proxy militants, and Iraqi protesters. In an unlikely but most dangerous scenario, Iran’s proxies could use the chaos of mass protests as a cover for attacks on the US Embassy, on Kadhimi’s government, or on any individual or organization affiliated with the United States or the US-led Coalition.“


PDF-Version: Iran (October 10, 2020)