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.

Europe Failed on Iran, but It’s Not Helpless

◢ Iran’s decision to scale down its commitments under the 2015 nuclear deal abandoned by President Donald Trump signifies a serious foreign policy failure for the EU and its member states. They have acted too meekly and ineffectively in the face of unilateral U.S. sanctions, and this unnecessary softness may well come back to haunt them as the U.S. use of extraterritorial sanctions expands.

The US and the Iran Nuclear Deal: Rejoining Is Wiser than Destroying

◢ In a joint call coordinated by the Istituto Affari Internazionali and the European Leadership Network, Europe’s leading policy experts urge the United States to reenter the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action in order to avoid a proliferation crisis in the Middle East, repair the transatlantic relationship, restore respect in international law and multilateral diplomacy, and end the harms being inflicted on the Iranian people.

Europe Tries to Sidestep the U.S. Finance System

◢ The standoff between the Trump administration and Iran is escalating, and Europe is caught in the middle. Brussels and national governments in the U.K., France and Germany, meanwhile, have been criticized by Iran for their response to U.S. sanctions. Europeans “speak eloquently”, Iran’s foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said in February. “They also need to walk the walk.” But it would be wrong to dismiss Europe’s efforts as hopeless.

Sanctions Pressure Spurs Debate on Iran’s OPEC Membership

◢ Mohammed Barkindo, the Secretary General of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), will arrive in Tehran tomorrow to visit an annual oil exhibition. Iran is one of the five founding members of OPEC, which is set to mark its 60 year anniversary. Despite this long history, the extraordinary challenges facing Iran’s oil industry have spurred industry leaders to debate three scenarios regarding Iran’s membership in OPEC. 

Putting Iranian People Before Non-Proliferation

◢ Until American policymakers can conceive of relations with Iran as something more than a set of tactical accommodations designed to address threat perceptions, they are unlikely to solve the question of Iranian proliferation decisively. It is discouraging to see Democratic candidates articulate their intentions towards Iran exclusively within the paradigm of the JCPOA and its ability to curtail Iran’s nuclear program.

Devastating Floods Further Strain Iran's Creaking Economy

◢ Iran’s economy was already creaking as two weeks of flooding devastated communities across the country, killing 76 people and damaging critical infrastructure and industries. Hundreds of thousands of Iranians have been left to pick up the pieces at a time when economic pressures may mean that their government and fellow countrymen will struggle to provide adequate relief.