No, China Isn't Giving Iran $400 Billion

◢ A recent report from the London-based publication Petroleum Economist offers a cautionary tale of “fake news.” The claim that China will extend a $400 billion credit line to Iran is poorly sourced and inconsistent with both recent trends in China-Iran trade and the scope of China’s Belt and Road Initiative.

How Iran is Seeking Stability in a Teetering World

◢ Amid the current fragility of the JCPOA nuclear deal, Iran finds itself mired between China’s rise, America’s retreat, Europe’s paralysis, and Russia’s ambitions. In this new era of great power competition, Iran must reassert its geopolitical importance and find its new balance in a teetering world. Iran’s greatest source of leverage remains energy exports—and not necessarily its own.

With Bolton Gone, Iran Must Seize Opportunity for De-Escalation

◢ John Bolton doggedly pursued maximum pressure, pushing aside the concerns expressed the secretary of state, secretary of treasury, military leaders and intelligence officials alike. While Trump’s antagonism towards the Iran nuclear deal predates his appointment of Bolton, the transformation of the Trump administration’s Iran policy into one of “economic war” was nonetheless dependent on Bolton’s ideological fixations.

India’s Iran Port Plans Languish Despite US Waiver

◢ Trump may have exempted Iran’s Chabahar port from sanctions, but India has struggled to realize its ambitions for the major infrastructure project. Recent government data confirms that no Indian investment has been made in the port in two years. As one Indian official involved with the project since its origins put it, “This was not what we hoped to achieve. Chabahar is only about photo-ops now, not substance.”

Iran Delays Currency Reform Demanded by Private Sector

◢ Despite sharp criticism from the private sector, the Rouhani administration has delayed a key reform to Iran’s currency policy, frustrating the country’s beleaguered business leaders. In late June, government spokesman Ali Rabiei stated definitively that the administration has no plans to eliminate the subsidized foreign exchange rate made available to importers of essential goods.

Trump’s NSC ‘Blocks’ Swiss Effort to Ease Iran Humanitarian Trade

◢ Last year, the Swiss government opened negotiations with the Trump administration to ensure that Switzerland’s significant sales of pharmaceutical products and medical devices—technically exempt from U.S. sanctions—could continue unimpeded. But the National Security Council has so far prevented the Swiss effort to ease trade in food and medicine in a remarkable subversion of longstanding U.S. protections for humanitarian trade with Iran.

Iran’s Currency Begins to Shrug Off Trump’s ‘Battle Rial’

◢ Over the last 18 months, the Iranian rial has lost nearly 70 percent of its value, hammered by the Trump administration’s decision to reimpose secondary sanctions on Iran in violation of the JCPOA. But new interventions by the Central Bank of Iran appear to have helped stabilize the currency, leading some commentators to proclaim that the rial is no longer vulnerable to Trump’s maximum pressure campaign.

New EU Top Diplomat Will Seek Continuity on Iran—if Circumstances Allow

◢ Josep Borrell, the current foreign minister of Spain, is a worthy nominee to replace Federica Mogherini as the EU’s top diplomat. His views on Iran suggest continuity with Mogherini’s pro-engagement policy and willingness to push back on the Trump administration’s unilateralism. But as the crisis over the JCPOA accelerates, the situation Borrell will inherit in a few months may prevent him from keeping the EU engaged in constructive dialogue with Iran.

Iran Launches Ambitious Housing Program to Boost Sanctions-Hit Economy

◢ To help alleviate the strain of rising house prices, the Rouhani administration announced earlier this month that it would begin implementation of its long-awaited social housing construction campaign intended to increase the availability of affordable homes for low-income families. The National Action Plan for Production and Supply of Housing aims to construct 400,000 small and medium-size apartments.

Iran’s Supreme Leader Emphasizes Practical—Not Political—Economic Aims

◢ During a meeting with the Islamic Republic's political elite, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei reiterated calls for a “resistance economy,” but also placed new emphasis on the “increasing the ease of doing business.” The specificity of some of Khamenei’s advice and observations about Iran’s economy suggests a greater appreciation for the practical importance of economic reforms that go beyond well-worn political slogans.

China Restarts Purchases of Iranian Oil, Bucking Trump’s Sanctions

◢ On the same day that Iranian foreign minister Javad Zarif traveled to Beijing for talks on "regional and international issues,” the Chinese oil tanker PACIFIC BRAVO began to head east, having loaded approximately 2 million barrels of Iranian oil from the Soroosh and Kharg terminals in the Persian Gulf over the past few days, according to analysis provided by TankerTrackers.com.

Iran’s Resistance Economy Is Kicking In

◢ The appointment of a new CEO at Iran Air exemplifies Iran’s renewed reliance on what its Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has called a “resistance economy.” In order to overcome the restrictions imposed by sanctions, Iran will turn increasingly to a cadre of “resistance managers,” elevating individuals and empowering networks with unique capacities to keep Iran’s trade flowing under duress.

Iranians Forced to Forgo Meat Staples as Prices Soar

◢ Working class Iranians could look forward to a hearty meal of meat stew or kabob at least once a week. But with meat prices soaring to all-time highs, Iranians are having to cut back on their consumption in yet another example of falling living standards as Iran’s economy falters under the pressure of sanctions and mismanagement.