Wrap Up & Background - Sanctions IRAN

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Actions and Steps from June 2010

The UN Security Council has passed Resolution 1929 imposing new sanctions against Iran for its alleged nuclear ambitions. The resolution passed with 12 affirmative votes, 2 dissenting votes from Brazil and Turkey, and an abstention from Lebanon. The resolution addresses concerns over Iran's nuclear program and is the fourth round of sanctions imposed against Iran. In 2006, the Security Council ordered Iran to stop enriching uranium and justified subsequent sanctions on the basis that Tehran had not complied. Tehran has consistently maintained that its nuclear program is peaceful, and as such places the country in compliance with its obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.


The new sanctions aim to curtail Iranian military capabilities by restricting missile investment and testing, enforcing a conventional arms ban, suggesting a cargo inspections regime, and targeting sanctions at new individuals and entities. These targeted sanctions impose an asset freeze on 40 entities and one individual, and a travel ban on 36 new individuals allegedly involved in Iran's nuclear program. Including the IRGC or Pasdaran controlled Ghorb organization (see text box below).


Speaking after the affirmative vote, US Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice hailed the resolution as being "as tough as they are smart and precise." US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton previously indicated that the sanctions would be the toughest yet. However, Resolution 1929 reflects compromises made with China and Russia on the initial draft resolution put forth by the United States and the United Kingdom and is apparently weaker than officials had privately hoped.


Furthermore, analysts have noted that these sanctions are weaker than those imposed during US President Bush's term, even in spite of his administration's notorious disregard for multilateralism. Each previous Iran sanctions resolution passed unanimously, but Resolution 1929 only passed with a vote of 12 in favor, 2 opposed, and 1 abstention. This vote reflects division within the Council over sanctions and may weaken enforcement efforts, as the dissenters could conceivably lag on compliance with the required measures.


Pasdaran - Ghorb - Explained

To do business in Iran, you need an Iranian partner, which often means Khatam al-Anbiya (its full name is Gharargah Sazandegi-ye Khatam al-Anbiya, or Ghorb) -- perhaps Iran’s biggest company. Ghorb is the parent of 812 (and growing) affiliate companies which, according to estimates by the US Treasury Department and Western intelligence services cited by Time Magazine, collectively employ around 40,000 people and have won approximately 1,700 government contracts, including billions of dollars in energy-related contracts awarded without a competitive bidding process. Ghorb faces few challengers: It is affiliated with Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), the hard-line regime loyalists who crush competition and jail, beat and kill members of the country’s democratic opposition. The UN Security Council added Ghorb to the list of 40 companies, including 15 connected to the IRGC, whose assets must be frozen. In 2007, the US Treasury Department designated Ghorb because of its links to the IRGC, itself designated by Treasury that same year for its role in supporting nuclear proliferation and terrorism. In 2010, Treasury also added to the list four of Ghorb’s affiliate companies -- the Fater Engineering Institute, the Imensazen Consultant Engineers Institute, the Makin Institute, and the Rahab Institute -- as well as Ghorb’s director, IRGC general Rostam Qasemi.

June 16, 2010 - US SANCTION DECLARATION ON IRAN

The US Department of the Treasury announced on June 16, 2010 a set of designations targeting Iran's nuclear and missile programs – the first set of measures from the United States implementing UNSCR 1929 and building upon the actions mandated by the Security Council. Today's actions also highlight for the international community Iran's use of its financial sector, shipping industry and Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps to carry out and mask its proliferation activities, and respond to the Council's call for all states to take action to prevent their own financial systems from being abused by Iran.

June 17, 2010 - EU SANCTION DECLARATION ON IRAN

The European Council underlines its deepening concerns about Iran's nuclear program and welcomes the adoption by the UN Security Council of Resolution 1929 introducing new restrictive measures against Iran. But under current circumstances, new restrictive measures have become inevitable for Europe. The new European measures aim explicitly for the first time at parts of the economy unconnected to Tehran's nuclear program and go well beyond curbs agreed in a more narrowly focused United Nations sanctions resolution this month. Pressure from the US, a much more important market than Iran, has already persuaded a growing band of big firms to curb business ties with the country.

EU President Herman Van Rompuy said after a summit in Brussels that European leaders "remain deeply concerned about Iran's nuclear program, and new restrictive measures have become necessary."

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that she welcomed the European measures, as well as an announcement by Australia that it planned more steps against Iranian banks and the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Line (IRISL).

The EU leaders decided the measures, to be settled in detail next month, would target Iran's: (implemented by EU Regulation 668/2010 – July 26, 2010)


The measures, which brought threats of retaliation from Iran, will most affect Germany and Italy, traditionally Iran's largest trading partners in Europe as well as the biggest European investors in the Iranian economy. Germany is Iran's second-largest trade partner, after China.


Some of the sanctions on banks or transport could restrict the ability of companies to finance or deliver products. Many well-known firms (including Oil traders) have already abandoned business in Iran.

One area where Iran is considered vulnerable is on imports of gasoline, where Iran suffers shortages. According to a European official, the EU considered imposing explicit sanctions on gasoline imports to Iran but backed off after the Netherlands and Germany voiced opposition.

Next Steps in General

The Obama administration placed on a US financial blacklist more than a dozen Iranian companies and senior Iranian officials in a bid to augment United Nations economic sanctions, approved early June 2010, aimed at curbing Tehran's nuclear and missile programs.


The US specifically targeted the companies and officers of Iran's elite military unit, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, which oversees most of Tehran's weapons programs.


Washington also blacklisted five Iranian companies that the US alleges are fronting for Iran's largest shipping company, the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines, which also is accused of supporting Tehran's proliferation activities. The US sanctions blacklist is intended to frighten international business from Iran, thus increasing its economic and political isolation. US companies that conduct business with foreign companies that do business with the listed companies are subject to US penalties.


The US actions are being coordinated with the European Union as a clear signal to Iran that the West will significantly harden the sanctions passed by the UN. European leaders have signed a six-paragraph declaration that orders the virtual freezing of new European investments in Iran's oil-and-gas sector. The EU will also commit to enforcing an arms embargo against Iran and curbing the sales of dual-use technologies to Tehran that can be used in its nuclear or missile programs.

Next Steps EU

More detailed EU sanctions will follow next month (implemented by EU Regulation 668/2010 – July 26, 2010).

Next Steps US

New proposed US legislation is part of a wider strategy to pressure Iran not to build nuclear weapons. The House and Senate have each passed legislation intended to curb gasoline sales to Iran, and prospects for passage of final terms are good, say legislators and Obama administration officials.


A final US bill is expected to be sent to President Barack Obama in June / July 2010, although it is unclear if the president will sign what is sent to him or demand changes. The administration has been trying to convince Congress to give the president the right to exempt from sanctions countries or companies that demonstrate support for international efforts to constrain Iran's nuclear ambitions.

OFAC Fact Sheet on Iran, November 6, 2008

Treasury Strengthens Preventive Measures against Iran, November 6, 2008. On October 16, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), which has members representing 32 jurisdictions and is the world's premier standard-setting body for anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing (AML/CFT), warned for the fourth time about the risks posed to the international financial system by continuing deficiencies in Iran's AML/CFT regime. The FATF called for all countries to strengthen preventive measures to protect their financial systems from this risk. Additionally, the UN Security Council called upon all states in March 2008 to exercise vigilance over the activities of financial institutions in their territories with all Iranian banks.


Consistent with these multilateral calls for action, the Treasury Department is revoking the "U-turn" general license today to protect U.S. financial institutions individually, and the U.S. financial system as a whole, from the significant terrorist financing and proliferation risks posed by Iran. This regulatory action will close the last general entry point for Iran to the U.S. financial system. Iran's access to the international financial system enables the Iranian regime to facilitate its support for terrorism and proliferation. The Iranian regime disguises its involvement in these illicit activities through the use of a wide array of deceptive techniques, specifically designed to avoid suspicion and evade detection by responsible financial institutions and companies. Iran also is finding ways to adapt to existing sanctions, including by turning to non-designated Iranian banks to handle illicit transactions.


The Treasury Department is taking a range of measures, including today's action, to counter these deceptive activities. The Treasury Department encourages all jurisdictions to adopt robust preventive measures consistent with the FATF warnings and relevant UN Security Council Resolutions (UNSCRs).

Iran Misuses the International Financial System to Support Terrorism

Iran is the world's most active state sponsor of terror. The support provided by the regime to terrorist groups includes financing that is routed through the international financial system, especially through Iranian state-owned banks.

Iran Misuses the International Financial System to Facilitate Proliferation

  1. Bank Sepah. Iran's state-owned Bank Sepah has been designated in the United States under E.O. 13382 and by the UN Security Council under UNSCR 1747. Bank Sepah has provided direct and extensive financial services, such as arranging financing and processing dozens of multi-million dollar transactions, for the Shahid Hemmat Industries Group (SHIG) and the Shahid Bakeri Industries Group (SBIG), two Iranian missile firms designated by the UN Security Council in UNSCR 1737 and identified by President Bush in the Annex to E.O. 13382 for their direct roles in advancing Iran's ballistic missile programs. Bank Sepah also has provided financial services to SHIG's and SBIG's parent entity, Iran's Aerospace Industries Organization (AIO), which also was identified by President Bush in the Annex to E.O. 13382 for its role in overseeing all of Iran's missile industries.
  2. Bank Melli. Iran's largest state-owned bank, Bank Melli, has facilitated numerous purchases of sensitive materials for Iran's nuclear and missile programs on behalf of UN-designated entities. In doing so, Bank Melli has provided a range of financial services to known proliferators, including letters of credit and the maintenance of accounts. The United States, the European Union, and Australia have designated Bank Melli.
  3. Bank Mellat. Iran's state-owned Bank Mellat has provided banking services in support of Iran's nuclear entities, namely the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) and Novin Energy Company. Bank Mellat, which was designated pursuant to E.O. 13382 in October 2007, has serviced and maintained AEOI accounts, mainly through AEOI's financial conduit, Novin Energy. Bank Mellat has facilitated the movement of millions of dollars for Iran's nuclear program since at least 2003.
  4. Export Development Bank of Iran. On October 22, 2008, the Treasury Department designated the Export Development Bank of Iran (EDBI) under E.O. 13382 for providing or attempting to provide financial services to Iran's Ministry of Defense and Armed Forces Logistics (MODAFL), which had been designated by both the European Union and the United States for its involvement in Iranian proliferation activities. Some MODAFL scientists and officials have also been designated by the UN. The EDBI provides financial services to multiple MODAFL-subordinate entities that permit these entities to advance Iran's WMD programs. Furthermore, the EDBI has facilitated the ongoing procurement activities of various front companies associated with MODAFL-subordinate entities. In addition, since Bank Sepah's designation by the United States and the UN Security Council, the EDBI has served as one of the leading intermediaries handling Bank Sepah's financing, including WMD-related payments. The EDBI has also facilitated financing for other proliferation-related entities sanctioned under U.S. and UN authorities.

Iran Uses Deceptive Financial Practices to Evade Sanctions

Effect of the Revocation of U-Turn License

OFAC has revoked the authorization of "U-turn" transfers for the direct or indirect benefit of Iran, through an amendment of the Iranian Transactions Regulations, 31 CFR part 560, to narrow the scope of existing § 560.516. This action affects the "U-turn" class of funds transfers, which are so named because, while they are conducted on behalf of Iranian account holders and banks or in connection with Iran-related transactions, they only pass through the U.S. financial system on their way from one offshore non-Iranian financial institution to another.

As a result of today's action, U.S. depository institutions are no longer allowed to process "U-turn" transfers to or from Iran, or for the direct or indirect benefit of persons in Iran or the Government of Iran. The prohibition on U-turns applies not only to state-owned Iranian banks and the Central Bank of Iran, but also to privately-owned Iranian banks, Iranian companies, and the settlement of third-country trade transactions that involve Iran.

Allowable Transactions

Today's action will not affect funds transfers by U.S. depository institutions, through intermediary third-country banks, to or from Iran or for the direct or indirect benefit of the Government of Iran or a person in Iran arising from several types of underlying transactions including:


OFAC first time added non-financial institutions owned or controlled by the government of Iran (Oil Industry) The Treasury Department announced on the 26th of November 2008 that the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) has added the National Iranian Oil Company (a.k.a. NIOC), Naftiran Intertrade Company Ltd. (a.k.a. NICO), and Naftiran Intertrade Co. Sarl as entities owned or controlled by the Government of Iran to the entities determined by OFAC to be owned or controlled by the Government of Iran.


This is the first time that OFAC has added non-financial institutions. Treasury's announcement indicated that "OFAC will continue to list both financial institutions and other entities that are determined to be owned or controlled by the Government of Iran."


While the prohibitions in OFAC's Iranian Transactions Regulations (ITRs) apply to all entities owned or controlled by the Government of Iran, Appendix A is intended to serve as a tool to assist U.S. persons in complying with ITRs. This is because most commercial and financial transactions with entities owned or controlled by the Government of Iran are prohibited, regardless of where such entities are located or incorporated. Most transactions with any branches or subsidiaries of these entities are also prohibited, regardless of where such branches or subsidiaries are located and incorporated.

November 26, 2008 HP-1299 OFAC Identifies Entities Owned or Controlled by the Government of Iran

The U.S. Department of the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) has identified the National Iranian Oil Company (a.k.a. NIOC), Naftiran Intertrade Company Ltd. (a.k.a. NICO), and Naftiran Intertrade Co. Sarl as entities owned or controlled by the Government of Iran.

The Iranian Transaction Regulations (ITR) include an appendix that contains a non-exhaustive list of entities determined by OFAC to be owned or controlled by the Government of Iran. The appendix can be accessed through OFAC's website: US Treas Iran Program (see "Overview of Sanctions"). OFAC is adding National Iranian Oil Company, Naftiran Intertrade Company Ltd., and Naftiran Intertrade Co. Sarl to this appendix. Certain entities listed in this appendix may be subject to further sanctions under other sanctions programs. To date, the appendix has listed only financial institutions that were determined to be owned or controlled by the Government of Iran. The inclusion of the National Iranian Oil Company, Naftiran Intertrade Company Ltd., and Naftiran Intertrade Co. Sarl marks the first non-financial institutions to be added to the appendix. Moving forward, OFAC will continue to list both financial institutions and other entities that are determined to be owned or controlled by the Government of Iran.


While the ITR do not impose an asset freeze, they do prohibit most commercial and financial transactions with entities owned or controlled by the Government of Iran, regardless of where such entities are located or incorporated. Most transactions with any branches or subsidiaries of these entities are also prohibited, regardless of where such branches or subsidiaries are located and incorporated.


This appendix serves as a tool to assist U.S. persons in complying with the ITR. The identified entities are considered to be owned or controlled by the Government of Iran when they operate not only from the locations listed in the appendix, but also from any other location. The ITR prohibitions apply to all entities owned or controlled by the Government of Iran, regardless of where they are located or incorporated, even if they are not listed in the appendix. The prohibitions in the ITR also apply to transactions with entities located in Iran that are not owned or controlled by the Government of Iran.


Naftiran Intertrade Company Ltd. is a subsidiary of the National Iranian Oil Company that is registered in the United Kingdom and located in Jersey, Channel Islands, United Kingdom. NICO, in turn, has a subsidiary, called Naftiran Intertrade Co. (NICO) Sarl, which is incorporated and located in Switzerland. The ITR prohibit most transactions with NIOC, NICO and NICO Sarl, in any locations worldwide, because these companies are entities owned or controlled by the Government of Iran.


The Iranian Transactions Regulations, 31 C.F.R. part 560, define the term "Government of Iran," in sections 560.304, to include any "entity owned or controlled by the Government of Iran," a term which is itself defined in section 560.313. The relevant ITR language can be accessed through the following link: ITR document.

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