This content was published on Jun 10, 2021 – 09:34 PM.
Arshad Mohammed and Daphne Psaledakis
WASHINGTON (Reuters). On Thursday, the United States said it had lifted sanctions on three former Iranian officials and two companies that previously traded in Iranian petrochemicals. A US spokesman called the move business as usual, but it could show the US willingness to ease sanctions when warranted.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, a US spokesman said the actions of the Office of Foreign Assets Control of the US Treasury Department (OFAC) were not related to efforts to renew Iran-US compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran.
“Today, OFAC and the State Department are also lifting sanctions against three former Iranian government officials and two companies previously involved in buying, acquiring, selling, transporting or marketing Iranian petrochemical products,” the Finance Ministry said in a statement. …
It says the delisting reflects “a confirmed change in behavior or status” of those affected by the sanctions and “demonstrates the US government’s commitment to lifting the sanctions if (such) a change occurs.”
A finance ministry spokesman said the three individuals had established “that they no longer hold their positions in organizations affiliated with the Iranian government,” adding that there is no reason to maintain sanctions against them.
The oil market fell briefly after it was frightened by media reports that sanctions were lifted on Iranian oil workers, suggesting the potential impact of additional Iranian barrels if the deal is closed and the sanctions are lifted. [O/R]
U.S. and Iranian officials are expected to begin their sixth round of indirect talks in Vienna this weekend on how both sides can resume compliance with the nuclear deal, officially called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
Under the deal, Iran limited its nuclear program to make it difficult to obtain fissile material for nuclear weapons in exchange for exemption from US, EU and UN sanctions.
Former US President Donald Trump backed out of the deal in 2018, saying it gave Tehran too much sanctions relief due to too few nuclear restrictions, and re-imposed sanctions that led to cuts in Iran’s oil exports.
About a year later, Iran retaliated by violating the restrictions on its nuclear program.
US President Joe Biden hopes to negotiate a mutual return to compliance, a challenge that requires defining the nuclear restrictions Iran will accept, the US sanctions to be lifted, and how to establish them.
When asked about the talks, State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters, “We’ve made progress, but, and you’ve heard it before; problems still remain, and serious problems continue to divide the parties. “
The finance ministry statement did not mention the names of three former Iranian officials or two companies delisted from its sanctions lists.
However, on its website, OFAC said it had removed three people from one of its sanctions lists: Ahmad Galebani, managing director of the National Iranian Oil Company; Farzad Bazargan, Managing Director of Hong Kong Intertrade Company, and Mohammad Moini, Commercial Director of Naftiran Intertrade Company Sarl.
OFAC said it has removed some sanctions from Sea Charming Shipping Company Limited and Aoxing Ship Management Shanghai Limited.
“This is just a Treasury decision in the normal course of business – not related to the JCPOA,” said a US spokesman, speaking on condition of anonymity, describing it as “a regular de-listing process when () the facts warrant it. “
(Reporting by Arshad Mohammed and Daphne Psaledakis; additional reporting by Humeira Pamuk and Simon Lewis; screenplay by Arshad Mohammed, edited by Chris Reese and Margarita Choi)