Iran’s media say German engineering giant Siemens has started talks to invest in the country’s petrochemical industry in a fresh sign of growing post-sanctions opening in the business environment of the Islamic Republic.
Mehr News Agency reported that Siemens is already engaged in serious negotiations with Iran’s Ministry of Petroleum over investing in a certain number of the country’s petrochemical projects.
The report added that a ranking delegation from Siemens had visited Tehran over the past few days to meet the related Iranian officials for investment talks.
It also said that another topic in the meetings of the German firm with Iranian officials was providing the advanced technology as well as the related technical and management solutions for Iran’s petrochemical projects.
In May, Siemens reported a rise in its second-quarter profit by €130 million in what it says was a result of the promising prospects of future activities in Iran.
The company announced in a statement that the resurgent business prospects in Iran after the removal of international sanctions has already increased its expectations of second-quarter revenues by €174 million.
The Munich-based company has always been one of the most active German enterprises in Iran. Even during the multiple years of sanctions that a majority of foreign companies left the Islamic Republic, Siemens kept its office in Tehran open to maintain its business in the country.
It has been mostly providing engineering services as well as technical parts including turbines to Iran’s gas projects. After the removal of the sanctions against Iran in January, it became even more active to pursue an ambitious Iran investment agenda.
In March, the company signed memoranda of understanding on rail infrastructure and gas equipment projects potentially worth billions of euros, as well as an energy agreement with Iranian power and infrastructure group MAPNA.
Iranian Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani (R) and Norwegian Foreign Minister Borge Brende in Tehran on August 17, 2016. ©IRNA
Iran says it has been offered a major export credit line by Norway worth €1 billion in what could be a fresh indication of Oslo’s determination to expand relations with the Islamic Republic in post-sanctions era.
The two countries have signed an agreement to the same effect after a meeting between the visiting Norwegian Foreign Minister Borge Brende and his Iranian host Mohammad Javad Zarif in Tehran, Iran’s IRNA news agency reported.
The agreement was part of a total of three agreements that the Export Guarantee Fund of Iran and the Norwegian Export Credit Guarantee Agency signed to fund some of Iran’s key development and infrastructure projects.
“After the lifting of sanctions, good opportunities have emerged for cooperation and Norway is ready to utilize the post-deal situation to expand cooperation in various fields,” Brende has been quoted as saying by IRNA in a report that was also carried by AFP.
The report added that Brende and Zarif had also discussed the expansion of economic relations between Iran and Norway in different areas, particularly in monetary and banking sectors.
Brende will leave Tehran for Islamabad later in the day. Apart from Zarif, he is scheduled to meet several other top Iranian officials during his single-day stay in the Islamic Republic. They included President Hassan Rouhani, Petroleum Minister Bijan Zangeneh, Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani, and Secretary of the Supreme National Security Council Ali Shamkhani.
By Robert Fantina | Aletho News | August 17, 2016
In 2015, after much ado, and with great, international fanfare, the United States and 5 other nations (China, France, Russia, Great Britain and Germany) entered into an agreement with Iran, regulating that country’s nuclear activities. This was not an easy sell to the U.S. Congress, which, apparently, exists to serve Israel first, and U.S. citizens only after Israel’s needs have been satisfied.
A group of 47 senators succeeded in humiliating the nation by sending a letter to Mohammad Javad Zarif, the Iranian Foreign Minister, purportedly explaining U.S. law.
Mr. Zarif, a U.S. constitutional expert, responded by schooling them.
Then, none other than Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed Congress, telling its members, yet again, for the umpteenth time in the last ten years, that Iran was only ‘months away’ from having a nuclear weapon.
Democratic members of Congress particularly beholden to Israel but not wanting to embarrass a Democratic president, danced to a particularly awkward tune as they waited to see if the agreement had enough votes in the Senate to pass. Once it was apparent that the agreement would be approved by a Congressional majority, they were at liberty to express their opposition to it, knowing that doing so would please their Israeli masters, and not impact the vote, thus embarrassing President Barack Obama.
Now, the bizarre reasoning behind why Iran, a nation that hasn’t invaded another country in decades, should be forbidden from developing nuclear weapons, when Israel, a brutal, apartheid regime with more blood on its hands than a doctor after a botched surgery, can, is a topic for another essay. Our purpose today is to examine the agreement that was made with Iran, what concessions were made on each side, and how each is following through.
Iran, which never claimed it had the development of nuclear weapons as its goal, agreed to major reductions in its nuclear development program. It also agreed to allowing an international monitoring team to verify compliance. In return, the U.S. agreed to lift decades-old sanctions that, like most of U.S. sanctions, did little to impact the government, but caused untold suffering among the Iranian population.
It seems, however, that Iran overlooked an important aspect in its negotiations with the U.S. While there is a mechanism in place to monitor Iranian compliance with the agreement, no such measures exist to monitor U.S. compliance.
The U.S., in its usual hypocritical way, has released the obligation of European banks to avoid doing business with Iran, yet maintains some sanctions, thus effectively preventing the banks from conducting any business with that country. As reported by CNN Money in May of this year, “HSBC, Standard Chartered and France’s BNP Paribas have all been in trouble before — and paid billions in fines — for dealing with Iran while U.S. sanctions were in place. So while they may see attractive commercial opportunities in the country of about 80 million people, they’re treading very carefully because some sanctions still linger, including a ban on conducting transactions with Iran in U.S. dollars.”
So while the U.S. adheres to the letter of the law, it violates the spirit of it, and as a result, Iran is getting next to nothing for the concessions it made. “We hold the US responsible for all violations [of the nuclear agreement]. The US must accept responsibility for reneging on its promises on the international level,” Alaeddin Boroujerd, Chairman of the Iranian Parliament’s Committee on National Security and Foreign Policy, stated on August 1. He further emphasized that the U.S., despite Iran’s adherence to the terms of the agreement, continued to damage “Iran’s economic relations with other countries.”
Now, isn’t the U.S. the land of the free and the home of the brave? Does it not proclaim its moral superiority around the globe, even as it bombs innocent men, women and children? Is its word not worth gold?
The U.S. does not want Iran to have nuclear weapons, because doing so would provide an equal, yet opposing, force to Israel in the Middle East. Current Democratic candidate, the corrupt former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, has made support for Israel a cornerstone of her campaign. She has stated that the best way to serve Israel is to topple the government of Syrian president Bashar Assad. So if U.S. government officials will go so far as to overthrow foreign governments (please see Ecuador, Guatemala, Brazil, Bolivia (twice), Portugal, Nicaragua, etc.), with all the killing, mass arrests and oppression that accompanies each coup, certainly crippling the economy of one of Israel’s enemies, and violating its word in order to do so, is a trivial matter by comparison.
When one party to any contract violates the terms of that contract, the other party is no longer bound by it. So when Iran decides that it need not slow its nuclear program, because the U.S. hasn’t respected its side of the agreement, we will all watch U.S. members of Congress proclaiming “I told you so! Those Iranians can’t be trusted!’, when, in fact, it is the U.S. that can’t be trusted. But the corporate-owned media will only report on what it will see as Iran’s violations of the agreement, without mentioning that the U.S. violated it first.
U.S. citizens will gasp in horror at the perfidy of Iran; after all, most Iranians are Muslim, and as the news media either hints at, or boldly proclaims, all Muslims are terrorists. And the way will be open for another U.S. imperial misadventure, something to match the tragedy of Iraq, Afghanistan, Vietnam or the countless other places where the U.S. has disastrously and illegally intervened. Countless innocent people will suffer and die, the Middle East will be further destabilized, and military contractors’ profits soar. It will be business as usual in the mighty, corrupt U.S.A.
More indications emerge to show that banking problems remaining from the sanctions against Iran are still obstructing the country’s exports.
Fariborz Karimaei, the deputy head of the Association of Petrochemical Industry Corporation of Iran, was quoted by the media as saying that Iran’s petrochemical exports to Europe are facing problems as a result of sanctions-related banking issues that have not been fully settled.
Karimaei emphasized that the European banks are still failing to cooperate with the Iranian exporters of petrochemical products even eight months after the removal of the sanctions.
In January, a series of economic sanctions that had been imposed against Iran were removed after a deal that the country had last year reached with the P5+1 – the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany – came into effect.
The sanctions restricted banking transactions with the country among other issues.
Iran has been persistently urging European countries to take the required measures to encourage their banks to facilitate transactions with Tehran now that the sanctions have been removed.
However, the country’s plea appears to have fallen on deaf ears so far.
Analysts have already emphasized that the banks remain wary of the impacts of the remaining American sanctions against Iran, specifically those that address banking transactions with the country.
Reports earlier said they want a promise that the US will not prosecute or punish them for transactions involving Iran — a step the US has so far been reluctant to take.
In May, US Secretary of State John Kerry told a meeting of top EU bankers that they will not be penalized for conducting or facilitating business with Iran.
However, European banks have already emphasized that Kerry’s assurances are not enough and a series of confusions that remain over transactions with Iran need to be cleared by Washington.
Following the Iran nuclear deal, Washington announced it would begin lifting economic sanctions against Tehran. Iranian banks were allowed to reconnect to the SWIFT communications network, which handles international payment transactions, the ban on Iranian oil exports was lifted, and Washington finally decided to unfreeze Iran’s financial assets held abroad (the assets were seized in 2012). No-one really knows the volume and structure of these assets. Some Iranian officials have put the total amount at $130 billion, while the Institute of International Finance in Washington has estimated it at $100 billion.
The foreign exchange reserves of the Central Bank, as well as the National Development Fund of Iran, account for a significant proportion of these assets. In January 2015, US Secretary of State John Kerry declared that $55 billion in frozen assets could be released to Iran. The Central Bank of Iran is using different figures, however. According to the Central Bank’s governor,Valiollah Seif, the amount in question is $32.6 billion. Either way, the amounts are considerable.
Anticipating that its foreign financial assets would be seized back in the 2000s, Iran organised for them to be moved to safer havens. From the point of view of Iranian experts, these were banks outside the jurisdiction of the US and Western Europe. Iran’s assets were withdrawn from Western banks and placed in banks in China, Japan, South Korea, Turkey and Taiwan. The Iranian experts miscalculated, however. Washington was able to get at Iran’s money even there, a fact that should also be borne in mind by Russia, against which the West can still use weapons like freezing its foreign exchange reserves.
The confiscation of Iran’s foreign exchange reserves
In April, Tehran’s joy at the unfreezing of its foreign exchange reserves proved to be short-lived. The US Supreme Court refused to return $2 billion in frozen assets to the Central Bank of Iran and ruled that the money should be sent to the families of Americans killed in terrorist attacks for which Iran is allegedly responsible. This refers to the 1983 terrorist attack in Beirut, in which 241 American soldiers were killed. The US Supreme Court found Iran’s ‘fingerprint’ in the attack that took place 33 years ago. The claim is far-fetched and has been refuted many times by both Iranian and Western experts (in 2001, Caspar Weinberger, who was the US Secretary of Defense at the time of the tragedy in Lebanon, acknowledged that there has never been any reliable information regarding those behind the attack in Beirut).
Appetite comes with eating, and the US authorities that confiscated $2 billion of Iran’s reserves also prepared another decision. The US court found Iran’s fingerprint in the events of 11 September 2001 and ordered Tehran to pay $7.5 billion in compensation to the families of those Americans killed in the attack (based on $2 million per victim). In addition, Tehran was ordered to pay $3 billion in compensation to those insurance companies that covered damages from the 2001 terrorist attack. There is no real evidence to support the claim that Iranian authorities were involved in the preparation and carrying out of the terrorist attack. Tehran is not going to comply with the US court’s decision, so the US authorities are preparing a resolution on yet another confiscation of Iran’s foreign exchange reserves to the tune of $10.5 billion.
The second target – Saudi Arabia
There is every likelihood that Iran is just the beginning, that Uncle Sam is practising on Iran. And Uncle Sam prefers the term reparations to confiscations. According to the US, it is about compensating for damages incurred by America and its citizens during a variety of military and terrorist attacks. The next victim of these reparations/confiscations is Saudi Arabia.
A bill entitled “Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism” is currently being prepared in the US Congress that will allow the families of 9/11 victims to sue those states involved in the 2001 terrorist attack. Although the document does not mention any states, everyone knows that the bill is directed specifically at Saudi Arabia. In 2014, Saudi Arabia’s international reserves amounted to almost $750 billion. This dwindled following the collapse in oil prices, but the country’s reserves still total just short of $600 billion today. That’s some tasty morsel for Uncle Sam!
At present, relations between Washington and Riyadh are complicated and the reparations/confiscations scenario is highly likely. Riyadh has already stated that it may withdraw its foreign exchange reserves, amounting to hundreds of billions of dollars, from the US. This raises at least two issues, however. Firstly, Saudi Arabia’s foreign exchange reserves should have been withdrawn earlier when relations between the two countries were still amicable. Now, Washington could block the large-scale withdrawal of reserves and assets. Secondly, even if Riyadh had withdrawn its reserves and assets from the US, there is still the issue of where they could be safely deposited. Iran’s unfortunate experience shows that Uncle Sam’s hand can not only reach banks in Europe, but also in Japan and South Korea, China and Hong Kong, and Turkey and Taiwan.
With regard to Chinese banks, they could not have been considered a reliable refuge for Saudi Arabia’s assets anyway, at the very least because the US Congress has started discussing the possibility of introducing economic sanctions against China. The time has come for Beijing to ponder scenarios like the possible freezing of its gigantic foreign exchange reserves. China is in an extremely vulnerable position, since its foreign exchange reserves are the largest in the world: as of 1 May 2016, they stood at $3.2 trillion. In addition, China has more than $1.24 trillion in US Treasury securities (plus its foreign exchange reserves deposited in US banks). To reduce its vulnerability, China is increasing the share of gold in its reserves, since this precious metal is immune to a variety of sanctions. Saudi Arabia cannot exchange its foreign exchange reserves for gold at the same rate as China and Russia, however, because, unlike these two countries, it is not a gold-producing country, and buying large amounts of gold on the global market is problematic (demand far exceeds supply).
Tehran regards Washington’s actions as “outright theft”
At the end of April 2016, the Iranian Foreign Ministry protested to Washington regarding the confiscation of $2 billion of Iran’s foreign exchange reserves. The Iranian media has referred to Washington’s actions as “outright theft”, and Tehran has decided to move from the defensive to the offensive. In May, the Iranian Majlis approved a bill calling on the government to sue the US and demand compensation for damages incurred by Iran as a result of US actions since 1953. The history of the subversive activities against Iran begins with the overthrow of the legitimate government on 19 August 1953 organised by US and UK intelligence agencies. Further down the list is the eight-year war between Iran and Iraq (1980-1988) instigated by Washington. The Majlis is demanding that compensation be paid to families for the deaths of 223,000 Iranians, as well as to the 600,000 veterans of the war with Iraq, and has invited the government to estimate the amount of the claim. Reparations payments for losses incurred as a result of the 37 years of economic sanctions introduced by Washington in 1979 occupy a special place in the statement of claim to the US.
On the monetary evaluation of American civilisation
There is a short epilogue to this story. In May 2016, the US president completed a tour around the countries of Asia. In several of these, the US has committed crimes against humanity, inflicting colossal material and moral damage on the peoples of these countries. This refers, first and foremost, to Japan. The atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945 fit completely with the modern definition of a ‘terrorist act’. Experts estimate that America’s atomic bombs claimed the lives of 300,000 people. There were also the genetic effects of the atomic bombs. Washington has never apologised for these barbaric acts, and Japan has never raised the issue of compensation for the damage caused. Let us suppose, however, that the compensation for each Japanese civilian killed would be equal to the compensation calculated by the US for the 1983 terrorist attack in Lebanon ($2 million per person). In this case, Japan could demand reparation payments from the US totalling $600 billion. And that is not counting the genetic damage currently affecting around a quarter of the Japanese population or the material damage caused by the destruction of buildings and structures in the atomic blast zones.
Barack Obama also visited Vietnam. Like Japan, Hanoi remained silent and did not present the US president with reparation claims relating to US aggression in the 1960s and 1970s. Yet from the use of toxic substances alone, at least five million Vietnamese citizens have developed diseases and genetic abnormalities. Incidentally, US soldiers were also affected by these chemicals, but they ultimately managed to get some compensation from their government. Based on the amount of compensation given to these US soldiers, compensation for damages caused to the people of Vietnam would run into the hundreds of billions of dollars.
With its reparation claims against the US, Iran will hopefully create a much-needed precedent that Japan, Vietnam, and other countries where America has enforced its democracy will take advantage of in the future.
Forbes in a report has hailed Iran’s success in the development of its gas industry and says the country can soon become a main rival over market access to key players like the United States.
The world’s leading business magazine says Iran owes the progress it has made in its gas industry to its high exploration success rate which it says stands at a whopping 79 percent.
The rate, it says, is specifically high given that the world’s average is only 30 to 35 percent.
The Forbes report further emphasizes that the progress in Iran’s gas industry could soon enable it to exploit the promising markets in India, Pakistan, Kuwait, and UAE.
It adds that the country’s planned reductions in subsidized pricing, which will help reduce wasteful usage, will free up more of its gas for exports.
Forbes further stresses that Iran’s plans to produce liquefied natural gas (LNG) will specifically have a prosperous future.
“Iran is currently working on several options to join the same ‘international LNG club’ that the US is also joining,” wrote Forbes in its report. “And Europe is the mid- and long-term target. Europe’s gas demand is projected to increase 15-20 percent by 2025. This means that Iran is competition for the US”.
The report emphasizes that Iran’s LNG plans are expected to become operational after 2020, adding that the country could benefit from the growing demand over the succeeding years particularly given that Europe’s gas demand, for example, is projected to increase 15-20% by 2025.
The commission monitoring the implementation of a nuclear deal between Iran and six world powers is to convene for a fourth meeting in Vienna.
The Iranian delegation, headed by Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi, arrived in the Austrian capital on Tuesday to attend the Joint Commission meeting, which is to convene later in the day.
The first meeting of the commission was held last October, agreeing to reconvene every three months.
The deal between Iran and the world powers, namely Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States, envisages Tehran scaling back its nuclear program in return for the lifting of all nuclear-related sanctions on the Islamic Republic.
However, months after the accord went into effect in January, the US and the European Union (EU) continue to maintain some sanctions on Iran, scaring off companies from resuming trade with the country.
European banks have balked at the idea of resuming transaction with Iran, fearing punitive US measures. US Republicans, meanwhile, are pushing through three anti-Iran bills in the Congress.
Commenting on the upcoming commission meeting on Sunday, Araqchi said it would be trying to prevent any potential problems from turning into “critical obstacles” in the way of the implementation of the deal, which is officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
“There are numerous instances of insufficient progress in the removal of the sanctions. It was up to the opposite side to bring about some circumstances, but it did not,” he complained.
He acknowledged that major banks have not resumed transactions with the Islamic Republic, attributing this to the atmosphere surrounding the agreement.
The Americans “did not create the requisite circumstances needed for the removal of the sanctions… In some places, they even created a destructive atmosphere,” he said.
On Monday, Iran’s Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani also said that, “If the sanctions are not supposed to be lifted and banking transactions to take place, there would remain no reason [to continue with] this agreement.”
“Iran has lived up to all its commitments in the nuclear agreement, from the reduction of centrifuges to decreasing of heavy water and enriched materials. But there has been reneging on promises by the other side, especially the US,” he said.
Meanwhile, Secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) Ali Shamkhani said the Islamic Republic is keeping a close eye on the US “bullying, illogicality, and disloyalty” under the JCPOA.
Shamkhani said Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei had raised the alarm as to the opposite side’s potential backtracking on its promises at the start of the negotiations.
Russia has verified Iran’s commitment to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), a nuclear agreement signed between Iran and six world powers last year.
Sergei Ryabkov, a Russian deputy foreign minister and a chief negotiator at the talks that led to the deal, made the remarks in a meeting with Iran’s Ambassador to Moscow Mahdi Sanayi on Tuesday.
“While referring to Iran’s commitment in fulfilling its JCPOA commitments, the Russian deputy foreign minister said, ‘Moscow would also lend its support to other parties’ fulfillment of their obligations,’” the Iranian Embassy in Moscow said in a press release.
Ryabkov’s remarks come even as certain Western parties have accused Iran of having violated the spirit of the JCPOA and a United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolution that endorsed it by engaging in developing and testing missiles.
Resolution 2231 was adopted on July 20, 2015 to endorse the JCPOA, which was itself signed six days before.
The accusations against Iran come despite the fact that Resolution 2231 puts no limits on Iran in terms of missile activities, and merely “calls upon” Iran not to undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles “designed to be capable of” delivering nuclear weapons.
Iran says it is involved in no such missile work and has no such weapons.
Under the JCPOA, Iran has in fact limited its nuclear program and provided enhanced access to international atomic monitors. The other sides have in return committed to terminating all nuclear-related sanctions imposed by the United States, the United Nations (UN) and the European Union (EU) against Iran.
During the Tuesday meeting, Sanayi, for his part, called Russia’s cooperation with Iran in the fulfillment of the JCPOA obligations valuable and constructive.
Moscow played an instrumental role in the negotiations leading to the agreement and the implementation of the deal.
Ryabkov and Sanayi also expressed satisfaction with the increased level of cooperation between Iran and Russia in the wake of the implementation of the JCPOA.
American aerospace and defense giant Boeing has criticized a possible ban by Congress on its multi-billion dollar agreement with Iran, saying that all rivaling companies should also withdraw their contracts with Tehran in case the ban is finalized.
Speaking in London on Sunday, Ray Conner, the chief executive officer (CEO) of Boeing’s commercial jetliner unit, said that attempts by American lawmakers to block the company’s 80-jet deal with Iran would only put Boeing in a disadvantaged position against its rivals.
Iranian airliner IranAir and Boeing reached a memorandum of agreement (MOA) in June, under which a total of 80 aircraft will be sold to Iran and a further 29 will be leased with Boeing’s support as part of a $25 billion contract.
However, the US House of Representatives blocked the deal on Thursday, with opponents arguing that Iran would use aircraft parts for “a military purpose.”
Congress passed two of the three measures that were drafted by its Financial Services subcommittee about the deal.
One of the measures would require the the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC ) not to license the sale of the planes to Iran.
Another measure prohibits the Export-Import Bank from financing any entity engaged in business with Tehran or any other one that provides financing to another entity to facilitate transactions with it.
Meanwhile, Boeing’s European rival Airbus is also awaiting Washington’s approval of an agreement with Tehran over the purchase of 118 planes, worth over $27 billion.
More than 10 percent of Airbus components are made in the US, making the US Treasury’s green-light mandatory before the deal can proceed.
“If we’re not allowed to go forward, then sure as heck no other US company should be allowed to go forward either and that would be any US supplier to any other manufacturer,” Conner was quoted as saying by the Seattle Times.
Aside from Airbus, companies like Bombardier; Embraer and COMAC also use American parts and should be subjected to the ban, Conner added.
The deals with Boeing and Airbus came after aircraft sanctions against Tehran were lifted under a landmark nuclear deal between Iran and the P5+1 group of nations—the US, Russia, France, Britain, China and Germany—reached in July last year.
The Iranian Foreign Ministry has dismissed a recent NATO communiqué concerning the Islamic Republic’s missile program as “a repetition of past baseless allegations.”
NATO, in a statement released on June 9, expressed “serious concern over the development of Iran’s ballistic missile program and continuing missile tests,” claiming that they “are inconsistent with UNSCR 2231.”
Resolution 2231 was adopted on July 20, 2015 to endorse a nuclear deal between Iran and six world powers — known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) — and puts no limits on Iran in terms of missile activities. The resolution merely “calls upon” Iran not to undertake any activity related to missiles “designed to be capable of” delivering nuclear weapons.
Iran says it is involved in no such missile work and has no such weapons.
“Not only does not Iran’s missile program have anything to do with the JCPOA…, but also, as reiterated numerous times, it is not in breach of Resolution 2231, either,” said Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Qassemi on Monday in reaction to the NATO statement.
“As declared repetitively, our country’s missile capabilities merely fall within the framework of the Islamic Republic of Iran’s legitimate defense program, and [the missiles] are by no means designed to carry nuclear warheads,” he added.
Iran and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council — the United States, Britain, France, Russia and China — plus Germany struck the JCPOA on July 2015 and started implementing it on January 16 this year.
Under the deal, Iran agreed to limit its nuclear program and provide enhanced access to international atomic monitors in return for the termination of all nuclear-related sanctions imposed by the United States, the United Nations (UN) and the European Union (EU) against the country.
Indications are growing that London could soon decide to drop sanctions to expand its trade with Iran in the wake of the recent vote by the British to quit the European Union.
“Although the US and other European countries can carry out trade with Iran, conducting trade with Britain after it leaves the EU in many ways should be easier because London will not be bound by Brussels,” reported the International Business Times.
“Certain sanctions on Iran implemented by the EU during the past two decades would not necessarily be applicable to Britain after it formally leaves the bloc,” it added.
The International Business Times said Britain would no longer be bound by EU decisions and directives including bans on doing transactions with the Islamic Republic.
It added that a warmer relationship between Britain and Iran could offer both countries solid economic opportunities following Britain’s vote to quit the EU.
The US-based online news publication further emphasized that the effects of American sanctions on Iran will not change with respect to Britain.
“A UK outside the EU would still be able to conduct business with Iran generally, as long as the transactions did not involve US banks, US dollars or US citizens,” the International Business Times quoted lawyers at the New York-based Sheppard Mullin as saying.
The International Business Times further added that Britain is positioned to reach an agreement with Iran in the energy sector.
“With the international deal on Iran’s nuclear program becoming effective early this year, the EU already has begun rolling back its sanctions on Iran, with an eye on new energy opportunities in the country,” it added.
“In January, the prohibition on financial transactions involving Iran was lifted, including the transfer of funds between financial institutions and individuals. Trade in oil and gas between the EU and Iran was rebooted while sanctions relating to shipbuilding, insurance and aviation were lifted.”
The global BDS (Boycott, Divest and Sanction) movement has become such a concern for Israel that a new minister has been appointed expressly to combat it. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has appointed Gilad Erdan, his number-two man in the right wing Likud coalition, as minister of public security, strategic affairs and public diplomacy.
Erdan’s major focus, however, will be attempting to dismantle the BDS movement and handling conflict with Iran.
“I don’t think the main issues are politics and disputes.” Erdan said in a Facebook post, “The questions that must be asked are about our personal security, the values of the police, and the attempts to boycott and delegitimize Israel around the world. Because I have been promised the proper tools, I will have the ability to take action and bring about real change.”
Erdan detailed how he would fight the movement, which Israeli President Reuven Rivlin called, “a first-rate strategic threat,” and said his past government experience has prepared him for his new position. “As a member of the cabinet, I am well aware of the danger that faces us due to the anti-Israel activities of the BDS movement,” he said. “As part of my job, I will take on anti-Israel activities in the international arena, such as attempts to attack us in the International Criminal Court, attempts by the Palestinians to have us expelled from FIFA, and more.”
Erdan is also tasked with finding a person to be the “head of a tarnishing unit,” that will seek to uncover incriminating and possibly embarrassing personal information on BDS activists in order to discredit them. The Israeli government is calling this tactic “counterdelegitimization.”
Israel mounted an institutional response to BDS prior to Erdan’s appointment. Anat Berko, a member of the Foreign Affairs and Defence Committee, formed an anti-BDS lobby inside the Knesset, the Israeli parliament. Berko said in an interview last year that “I have no problem with self-criticism, but the real meaning behind this delegitimization and boycott campaign is a call for our destruction. People have to understand that what happened in FIFA was terrorism, no matter how you look at it.”
The same day Berko made her comments there was a special session in the Knesset to talk about how to address BDS.
Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked said, “There is a de-legitimization campaign against Israel happening right now. These are ephemeral organizations and we need to stop cooperating with them and cut ties, have them pay for their boycotts.” Shaked added, “Today, it’s ‘super in’ to be anti-Israel.”