Belfer Iran Brief—New penalties for sanctions evaders and other news

Belfer Iran BriefThe United States announces new penalties for sanctions-busters, Saudi Arabia flexes its muscles, and more in this week’s edition of the Belfer Iran Brief spanning April 26-May 2, 2014.

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By Andrew Wojtanik

Highlights

  • Treasury Department announced penalties against two Dubai-based individuals and nine foreign front companies (eight Chinese) for evading oil sanctions and supporting Iran’s ballistic missile program.
  • According to Iranian media, the IAEA will visit Iran’s Saghand uranium mine and Ardakan milling plant next week.
  • Saudi Arabia displayed a number of medium-range Dongfeng-3 missiles at a military parade in a move thought to be aimed at intimidating Iran.

Diplomacy and nuclear issue

  • P5+1 representatives met in Brussels this week to prepare positions for upcoming negotiations with Iran on May 13. (Reuters, 4/30)
  • Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif: “I am optimistic over a deal, provided that the talks proceed in the same spirit.” (Reuters, 4/27)
    • “Rouhani is acting on a popular mandate and I am sure Iranians will accept any deal that would respect their rights and legitimate demands. I am sure if we score a decent deal, it will be backed by a majority of Iranians.”
  • According to Iranian media, the IAEA will visit Iran’s Saghand uranium mine and Ardakan milling plant next week. (Reuters, 4/29)

Sanctions and Iran’s economy

Desert near Iran's Ardakan uranium mill
March 28, 2011 - Desert near Iran's Ardakan uranium milling plant. (Photo by Kaveh Kazemi/Getty Images)
  • Russia and Iran are reportedly discussing a bilateral agreement worth $8-10B in which Moscow would provide Iran with 500 MW of electricity and a number of hydroelectric power plants. (WSJ, 4/28) Note: Reuters revealed in January that Iran and Russia are also in talks over a $20B “oil-for-goods” deal.
  • Treasury Department announced penalties against two Dubai-based individuals and nine foreign front companies (eight Chinese) for evading oil sanctions and supporting Iran’s ballistic missile program. (USIP, 4/29)
    • China threatened to reduce counter-proliferation cooperation in response to separate sanctions against Chinese businessman Li Fangwei, accused of being a “principal supplier” to Iran’s ballistic missile program. (GSN, 4/30)
  • Central Bank of Iran (CBI) confirmed that $2.5B in unfrozen oil revenues have been deposited into CBI’s accounts. (AEI, 4/30) Note: The interim nuclear agreement grants Iran access to $4.2B in oil revenues in frozen accounts overseas, to be released in eight installments over a six-month period ending in July.
  • President Rouhani defended his government’s cuts to oil subsidies, which began to take effect last week: “Either we had to continue the way we were going or make changes, and we decided to make changes.” (WP, 4/29Note: Subsidy reforms contributed to a 75% spike in domestic fuel prices on April 24.
  • Value of the Iranian rial dropped 9% against the dollar over the past month. (Reuters, 5/1)
  • Iran’s aviation authority announced plans to buy 400 new airplanes from the West if sanctions are lifted. (Reuters, 5/1)

Iranian domestic politics

  • No significant developments.

US-Iran relations

  • Iran criticized the United States for continuing to list Iran as a state sponsor of terrorism. (AFP, 5/1)

Geopolitics and Iran

  • Saudi Arabia displayed a number of medium-range Dongfeng-3 missiles at a military parade in a move thought to be aimed at intimidating Iran. (GSN, 4/30)
  • Simon Gass, senior official at the UK Foreign Office, met with Iranian officials in Tehran. (WSJ, 4/28) Note: Gass’ travel marks the highest-level diplomatic meeting between the two nations since Britain severed ties with Iran in 2011.
  • President Rouhani met with Pakistani Foreign Minister Sartaj Aziz in Tehran. (AEI, 4/28)

Israel

  • No significant developments.

“Red lines,” “points of no return,” and military strikes

  • No significant developments.

Uncertain or dubious claims

  • No significant claims.

 

Andrew Wojtanik is a research assistant at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs.