Millennium Post

US double standards on sanctions against Iran

The United State of America’s double standards in its economic and political diplomacy is well known but on the issue of sanctions against Iran, the duplicity of White House is reaching mammoth proportions. Defying all norms, American goods and services are being exported to Iran. American Lawrenceville Plasma Physics Inc signed an agreement in 2012 with Iranian Islamic University for joint conduction of nuclear physics research. US companies are also regularly supplying machinery to Teheran, especially Cummins engines. The wheat import from the US is also continuing and all such transactions are being operated through US banks without any restrictions.

Presently, President Obama is having negotiations with the Iranian Government for resolving the stalemate on the nuclear issue, some progress has been achieved on this front. There is an implicit demand from Iran for easing of sanctions further but the US Government is not acting on this demand. Moreover, the Republicans who represent the interests of big capital are creating conditions for continuing the present impasse and the sanctions in the interests of the US companies. These US companies are doing clandestine business with the Iranian companies while preventing non western companies from doing business.

Observers of US-Iranian relations have noted that despite the negotiations process around Iran’s nuclear programme progressing well, western powers, especially the USA are not in a mood to ease the cumulative quantum of sanctions on Iran; this is because all unilaterally imposed sanctions are aimed at setting up advantageous economic conditions for US multinationals and exclude any competitors in the Iranian market who can try to pose a business challenge to the Americans and the Europeans.

US sanctions have obvious discriminatory features for most Asian countries including China and India. The West since it possesses an advanced banking system and a powerful international currency like the dollar and euro can easily affect bilateral trade between Asian countries and Iran. While the US banking system has left some loose ends for the big US companies to take advantage of and trade with Iran in a direct or indirect manner, nevertheless the Asian companies have been kept out of the purview of business with Iran by invoking provisions within restrictive sanctions which the US has imposed and also by invoking the stringent guidelines of western banks .In the last two years, the US sanctions policy has created a situation where the leading players of Asia have been pushed away from the Iranian market while the clandestine trade and business between Iran and companies which act as a front for the US have continued and even increased.

Experts have noted that the US sanctions policy has deliberately left significant loopholes exploiting which US companies can deal with Iran while the Asian companies are barred from doing business. According to a special law promulgated by the US, American companies have an opportunity to invest in the Iranian economy in case it is of “vital importance for American national security” and also “not being drastically supportive” to its nuclear and oil sector. Taking advantage of these clauses, the US companies are participating in projects in Iran and these have enabled US based pension funds to invest around US$ 300 million directly in oil projects in southern Iran.

Latest data show that the US government has awarded more than US$ 100 billion in contract payments, grants and other benefits over the past decade to foreign and multinational American companies while they were doing business in Iran, despite Washington’s so called official policy of discouraging investment in sanctions-hit Iran. This figure includes nearly US$ 15 billion paid to companies that defied American sanction laws by making large investments that helped Iran in developing its vast oil and gas reserves.

A New York Times assessment of federal records made a while back shows that both the Obama and Bush administrations sent mixed messages to US corporates when it came to doing business in Iran by not penalizing US companies whose commercial interests conflict with American security goals. Many of these companies are involved in vital areas of Iran’s economy and more than two third of the US government’s funds went to companies doing business in Iran’s energy sector-a huge source of revenue for the Iranian Government.

Other US companies are also engaged in auto manufacturing and distribution- another important area of Iranian economy with links to the security establishment of the regime. Analysts have noted that for all the talk of America about sanctions against Iran, the US administration has kept plenty of room for companies to profit in crucial areas of Iran’s economy without fear of reprisal from the government or potential loss of United States business. Even companies based in the United States including some of the biggest federal contractors, can invest in Iran through foreign subsidiaries run independently by non-Americans.

The non-western companies must raise their voice against this US perfidy. At a time when there are definite signs of easing of tensions between USA and Iran, there is no reason why the earlier sanctions that are severely handicapping the non-western companies in dealing with Iran, will still remain. India, China and Russia must take the initiative in this regard and expose the US duplicity in the interests of fairness in international trade and business. That will also be in the interests of the security and peace in the west Asian region. IPA
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