Asia, Not the EU, Might Be Iran's Hope to Whither the US Sanctions Storm

Published November 5th, 2018 - 07:40 GMT
India’s oil imports will be reduced, but will still rank up more than a million barrels per month. (Shutterstock)
India’s oil imports will be reduced, but will still rank up more than a million barrels per month. (Shutterstock)

Though the implementation of US oil sanctions against Iran on Sunday will hurt, an expert on Iran’s economy told The Jerusalem Post that they will be insufficient to compel it to accept a new tougher nuclear deal.

The problem with forcing Iran’s hand, says Iran sanctions expert Barak Seener, is that even without the EU, Tehran maintains key support from Asia.

In fact, on Thursday it was announced that the US is giving India a waiver on oil sanctions in exchange for Delhi reducing its imports of Iranian oil by one-third.

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Seener is a political risk consultant at Strategic Intelligentia and published a book with the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, titled Commercial Risks Entering the Iranian Market. The book, which the Post reported on in July, was released in time for the August 6 less-damaging US sanctions.

At the time, Seener expressed a similar opinion that even as EU companies played ball with US sanctions (against their government’s wishes), support for Iran from China, Russia, India and South Korea would be too strong too sufficiently isolate the Islamic Republic’s economy.

Despite a long line of reports that Iran’s economy has suffered deeply from the August sanctions and from anticipation of Sunday’s escalated sanctions, Seener said that the fundamental dynamics protecting Iran from a total collapse if anything are even more solid.

Regarding China, he said the continuing trade war with the US – with no sign of an end in sight – “will orientate China towards Iran” such that it will “seek to develop infrastructure there in the framework of its Belt Road Initiative and increase its trade and energy supplies from Iran.”

In the past, Israeli ministers have confided to the Post that Trump’s trade war with China could undermine his drive to isolate Iran.

Next, he said, “Russia will attempt to leverage the Iranian sanctions by closely aligning itself with OPEC and increasing oil output in order to enable Saudi Arabia to enforce supply quotas.”

As noted, India’s oil imports will be reduced, but will still rank up more than a million barrels per month.

All of these dynamics will help Iran survive and outlast the impact of the sanctions, even as the negative impact is severe, he said.

On the other side of the coin, Seener said that the collapse of EU real opposition to US sanctions is closer to complete than it was months ago.

“While the EU has sought to create a unique financing mechanism to access the Iranian market, the private sector has taken the lead by staying away due to it wanting to access the US market,” he said.

“It is a matter of time until EU governments follow the private sector’s lead,” he added, especially following Iran’s “planned terrorist attacks in France and Denmark.”

Meanwhile, a recently issued report by the Wisconsin Project on Nuclear Arms Control’s Iran Watch division details Iran’s skill at navigating sanctions.

The report discusses an unsealed indictment in the US which “provides detail on Iran’s use of deceptive practices to procure export controlled items with military applications from the US and elsewhere.”

According to the report, the indictment details an elaborate, multi-year conspiracy directed by an Iranian-born Canadian to procure the items for an Iranian firm, with help from co-conspirators in China, Portugal and Turkey.


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