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.

Political Risks Outweigh Legal Impact of IRGC Terrorism Designation

◢ The Trump administration announced the designation of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC)—a branch of Iran’s armed forces—as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) pursuant to section 219 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). While the practical effect of the FTO designation is negligible at best, the risks to the US from the designation could be severe.

Squeezing Gas Prices or Iran? Trump Must Choose

◢ The deadline for the US administration to decide whether to extend sanctions waivers granted to buyers of Iranian oil is now less than a month away, and President Donald Trump faces a tricky decision. He undoubtedly wants to increase pressure on the Persian Gulf nation, but in doing so he risks stoking oil prices and with them those all-important gas prices in swing states back home.

Here’s How the United States Can Help Iran's Flood Recovery

◢ In order improve preparedness for frequent earthquakes, floods, sandstorms, and heat-waves, Iran urgently needs to upgrade its surveying and monitoring technologies to better model and predict meteorological, hydrological, and geological events. The United States should create a new general license to remove the sanctions-related barriers to Iran’s acquisition of these much needed technologies.

With Focus on Economic Relations, Iran-Iraq Ties Move Into the 'Daylight'

◢ Expectations were high when Iranian president Hassan Rouhani visited neighboring Iraq last month. During the trip, his first as president, Rouhani signed multiple trade deals with Iraq, where the return of peace and stability has renewed the government’s focus on economic development. Iran’s reinvigorated diplomacy towards Iraq reflects a new diplomatic and economic strategy towards its onetime foe.

Why China Isn’t Standing By Iran

◢ Last week, Iran’s economic minister was in Beijing for talks on bilateral trade and investment. An official readout of the discussions from China’s commerce ministry describes China and Iran as “comprehensive strategic partners.” Unfortunately for Iran, the data tells a different story from the official rhetoric.

Iraq's Top Cleric Joins Game of Thrones

◢ Ostensibly, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s visit to Iraq was meant to deepen economic ties between the two neighbors, historically divided by political and sectarian enmities as much as they are connected by geography. Only one Iraqi leader could have kept Rouhani at arm’s length: Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, But he didn’t. The audience he gave the Iranian president says as much about Sistani’s own political adventurism as it does about Iraq’s subservience to Iran.