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Iran’s 35 Standing Sanctions: Can they be Lifted?

Elimination of the international sanctions is one of Iran’s demands aimed at paving the way towards a comprehensive nuclear deal, but in fact, a notable number of sanctions are not related to the Middle Eastern country’s nuclear activities.

Of the 35 sanctions imposed on Iran, the U.S. put in place 25 and the UN and EU five each.

The motivation for the U.S. sanctions imposed on Iran during a period from 1979 to 2012, includes a vast range of topics; including abusing human rights inside the country and Syria, supporting and sponsoring the terrorism, money laundry and its nuclear program.

For instance, before 2002 – when for first time Iran’s uranium enrichment plant, Natanz, was revealed – the U.S. had imposed 10 sanctions, of which only one case was related to weapons of mass destruction and non-proliferation. Concerning post 2002 sanctions, again the vast range of restrictions imposed by Washington relate to non-nuclear issues.

Some of sanctions were designed directly by Congress. The U.S. President Barak Obama can eliminate those sanctions, which were ratified by White House, and suspend those imposed by Congress for six months and extend this period every 180 days. However, it’s difficult to talk about the lifting of sanctions on Iran entirely, especially while the Republicans dominating Congress are against any deal that doesn’t curb all of Iran’s nuclear activities.

Eliminating EU and United Nation Security Council sanctions would be relatively easy, because all of them are military and nuclear-related.

Ignoring the sides’ attempt to get the best compromise, it seems Iran’s priority is the elimination of sanctions restricting its financial sectors which include; shipping, insurance, selling oil and gas, banning investment in the energy sector, black-listing of banks, etc.

According to a report prepared by Iranian former Minister of Road and Urban Development Ahmad Khorram for the Expediency Discernment Council, Iran has lost about $460 billion from sanctions between the Q2 of 2012 to the same period in 2014.

This amount of loss during a three-year period surpasses the country’s annual GDP, which stood around $370 billion in 2014.

The country’s oil export halved to one million barrels per day, national currency dropped 3.5 times in value against USD, the inflation rate soared to above 36 percent and above $100 billion Iranian reserves were blocked abroad. Additionally, the country faced 1.9 percent and 6.8 percent economy contraction during the years corresponding to 2012 and 2013.

Iran’s GDP growth reached 1.5 percent during last year, mostly because of easing some sanctions based on an interim nuclear deal achieved in November 2013 and extended so far. As it stands, the comprehensive nuclear deal is expected to last at least one decade and during this time the other sanctions could be removed gradually.


By Dalga Khatinoglu