Obama Authorizes New Iran Sanctions
President Obama authorized new sanctions against banks that facilitate the sale of petrochemical products by the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) and Naftiran Intertrade Company (NIC). Additionally, the President imposed sanctions on the Bank of Kunlun in China and Elaf Islamic Bank in Iraq for processing transactions for sanctioned Iranian banks (Reuters 7/31; The White House 7/31).
US Lawmakers Push for More Sanctions on Iran
US lawmakers in favor of new sanctions have reached an agreement, and the new legislation is expected to be voted on in the House as early as Wednesday. As explained by the Senate Banking Committee, “The bill aims to prevent Iran from repatriating any of the revenue it receives from the sale of its crude oil, depriving Iran of hard currency earnings and funds to run its state budget.” (AP 7/30; Senate Banking 7/30).
Iraq Says It Will Force MEK Out of Paramilitary Base
Iraq has told the Mujahadin-e Khalq (MEK), a US-designated terrorist organization, that they must move out of Camp Ashraf, or be forced to leave. Iraqi National Security Advisor Falih al-Fayadh said at a conference that, “Now we are free to implement the mechanisms required to transfer those who live in (Camp Ashraf) to where we find appropriate.” Iraq said it will observe a grace period of “a few days” to allow for a solution to the impasse, which arose when the MEK stopped cooperating with efforts to relocate the group’s members (Reuters 7/31).
Persian Gulf States Expand Arms Purchases
The Department of Defense has notified Congress of possible arms sales totaling more than $11.3 billion, including Patriot missile and Apache helicopter sales, to Persian Gulf states like Qatar and Kuwait (AP 7/30).
Romney Says Iran is Number One Threat, Not Russia
Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney has shifted his tone after referring to Russia as the US’S “number one geopolitical threat”, saying, “The number one national security threat, of course, to our nation is a nuclear Iran”, during an interview with Wolf Blitzer in Jerusalem. He added, “Russia is a geopolitical adversary but is not an enemy with a – you know, with… missiles being fired at one another and things of that nature,” (CNN 7/30).
US Defense Secretary Panetta Says Sanctions Having “Serious Impact” on Iran
US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta urged Israeli leaders to be patience in using diplomacy and economic pressure on Iran. In comments to reporters before arriving in Jerusalem Panetta assured, “These sanctions are having a serious impact in terms of the economy of Iran.” He added, “”And while the results of that may not be obvious at the moment, the fact is that they have expressed a willingness to try to negotiate with the P5+1, and they continue to seem interested in trying to find a diplomatic solution,” (Reuters 7/30; NYT 7/30).
Controversies Further Weaken Ahmadinejad’s Political Influence
The New York Times reports that the combination of the dismissal of Ahmadinejad-appointee Saeed Mortazavi from his position as director of the Iranian social security fund yesterday and an Iranian court’s sentencing of four people to death for embezzlement may signal President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s increased isolation during his final year in office (NYT 7/30).
Delhi Police Deny Reports Revolutionary Guard Perpetrated New Delhi Bombing
A day after reports surfaced claiming the Delhi Police had concluded the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps were involved in the February 13 bomb on an Israeli diplomat in New Delhi, the Delhi Police are denying the report (Times of India 7/31).
Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, and Russia Take Over Iranian Oil Market Share in Asia
As Iranian exports to Asia have fallen, Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, and Russia have attempted to eat into Iran’s market share. Saudi Arabia, Russia, and Venezuela are exporting approximately 21 percent more crude to Asian buyers than a year ago, while Iranian exports to China, Japan, South Korea, and India have fallen by a third in the first six months of the year (Reuters 7/31).
Iranian Central Bank Establishes Sanctions Task Force
Iranian central bank chief, Mahmoud Bahmani, says Iran has “established a headquarters in the central bank, which meets on a daily basis,” and whose task it is “to manage the sanctions.” He added, “In times of sanctions, we need to carry out asymmetrical economic warfare, which we have begun … or else we would face difficulties and obstacles.” Bahmani was quoted as saying sanctions are “no less than a military war”, backing comment from Iranian President Ahmadinejad which called sanctions “political warfare” (AP 7/31;AFP 7/31).
Iranian Auto Industry Attempts to Fill Gap in Market Left by Peugeot Departure
After Peugeot suspended its sales in Iran in February, the highly-dependent Iranian auto market faced trouble without access to prevalent Peugeot 405 and 206 models, but Iranian news sources now claim Iran Khodro Co., Iran’s largest carmaker has begun to produce most of the Peugeot 206 model parts (Bloomberg 7/31).
Turkish Exports of Gold to Iran Prop Up Export Sector
Iranian imports of Turkish gold have narrowed Turkey’s trade deficit, with the help of a dip in oil prices dip and a slowing of the economy. Iran was the biggest destination for Turkish exports with Iran buying $1.3 billion of Turkish goods, increasing 471.2 percent from last year (Reuters 7/31).
Iran Denies Report that China National Petroleum Corp. Has Pulled Out of Contract
Contrary to earlier reports, an Iranian official, speaking alongside a Chinese oil-company official said China National Petroleum Corp., or CNPC, has not pulled out of a $5 billion project to develop South Pars gas field, but that the project is struggling to find financing (WSJ 7/31).
Yemenis Snub Iranian Envoy
Yemeni President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi has refused to receive the Iranian envoy to signal “Sanaa’s displeasure with Tehran’s policy towards Yemen”. The Iranian envoy is in Yemen to invite Hadi to attend the Non-Aligned Movement’s summit in Tehran in August, but the discovery of an Iranian spy ring in Yemen on July 18 has soured relations (Reuters 7/31).
Ahmadinejad Supports Shift to Exporting Refined Oil Products
At the opening of an oil refinery in Tehran, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was quoted as suggesting Iran “stop the exports of crude oil” to, instead, focus on refined oil products. Iran’s oil exports have fallen to between 1.2 barrels per day (bpd) and 1.3 million bpd, the lowest in more than 20 years as a result of Western sanctions (Reuters 7/31).
Notable Opinion: “Sanctions And The Shaping Of Iran’s ‘Resistance Economy’”
Farideh Farhi discusses ICAN’s report on sanctions and how they’ve shaped the Iranian economy:
To be sure, most individuals and organizations that push for “crippling” sanctions do so in the name of Israeli security and/or non-proliferation with little or no regard for the resulting impact on Iran’s population and civil society. In a world where economic warfare is considered diplomacy, more sanctions will apparently be the name of the game “until Iran begins to negotiate seriously” or “chooses a different path” — whatever that means. Pretensions or hope regarding the utility of blunt and wide-ranging sanctions for changing the way the hardline leadership in Iran treats its population, or, even better, for bringing about a change of regime in a “peaceful” way, are also out there.
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If ICAN’s analysis is accurate, it also foretells harsher economic realities for the most vulnerable elements of Iran’s population, a harsher political environment for those agitating for change, and a more hostile setting for those who have tried to maintain historical links between Western societies and Iranian society.
Sanctions impact calculations, but usually not in the intended fashion.