Overview of international sanctions against Iran

Overview of international sanctions against Iran

A look at the various limitations that have been placed upon Tehran, many of which will now be lifted

A view of Iran's Bushehr nuclear reactor (Youtube screen capture)
A view of Iran's Bushehr nuclear reactor (Youtube screen capture)

Below is an overview of international sanctions adopted against Iran over the years to persuade it to end its controversial nuclear program.

A limited number have already been eased since an interim accord was struck in 2013. Others were to be lifted following the UN atomic watchdog’s announcement Saturday that Iran had fulfilled its obligations under last July’s nuclear agreement with world powers.

Some sanctions, not linked to the accord, will remain in place however, including European sanctions linked to human rights and US sanctions linked to terrorism.

Embargoes on the sales and exports of conventional weapons and ballistic missile technology will also remain in place — for five years for conventional weapons and for eight years for ballistic missile technology.

All other sanctions will be lifted in three stages.

The UN Security Council last July adopted a resolution clearing a path to lift the sanctions once Iran has met its commitments. If Tehran violates any of its commitments, the Security Council can initiate proceedings to reinstate sanctions under a so-called “snapback” mechanism.

Here are details of the sanctions adopted by the United Nations, the United States and European Union:

United Nations

The UN Security Council has approved four series of sanctions. Currently 43 individuals and 78 entities are on the UN’s blacklist.

  • Resolution 1737 (December 2006) imposes economic and commercial sanctions against 10 entities linked to Tehran’s nuclear and ballistic programs. Their assets and those of 12 individuals are frozen.
  • Resolution 1747 (March 2007) freezes the assets of 13 new entities linked to the nuclear program or the Iranian Revolutionary Guards. There is also an embargo on Iranian arms purchases and restrictions on loans to Iran.
  • Resolution 1803 (March 2008) imposes a foreign assets freeze and travel ban on key players in the nuclear program and forbids the supply of dual-use items (civilian and military) to Iran.
  • Resolution 1929 (June 2010) places new restrictions on Iranian investments and bans sales to Iran of battle tanks and combat aircraft.

United States

  • November 1979: Washington begins to ban businesses and individual Americans from trading with Iran except with Treasury Department approval in response to the hostage taking at the US embassy in Tehran.
  • June 1995: The US implements a broad economic embargo against Iran.
  • November 2008: Washington forbids US banks to take part in fund transfers involving Iran.
  • July 2010: A law targets the supply of petrol to Iran, which is highly dependent on refined products, and foreign firms that invest in the Iranian energy sector.
  • November 2011: Washington reinforces sanctions on goods, services and technologies for Iran’s petrochemical sector. In December, assets of foreign financial institutions that trade with the Iranian Central Bank in the petrol sector are frozen.
  • July 2012: The US imposes new economic sanctions on Iran’s oil export sector and on two banks accused of dealings with Tehran.
  • June 2013: Washington unveils sanctions on the rial currency and the auto sector.

Around 100 entities in Iran are affected by the US sanctions.

European Union

  • July 2010: The EU bans technical assistance or the transfer of oil technologies to Iran. It also bans the activity of some Iranian banks and adds names to the United Nations list of individuals banned from travelling.
  • In May, then December 2011 it freezes the assets of 243 Iranian entities and around 40 more individuals, who are banned from receiving visas.
  • January 2012: The EU approves a ban on Iranian oil imports and freezes assets of the Iranian Central Bank.
  • October 2012: New sanctions target EU dealings with Iranian banks, shipping and gas imports.
  • December 2012: The EU extends its blacklist.
  • A total of 92 Iranians and 466 companies or groups, including the Iranian central bank, are affected by the Brussels sanctions.
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