Friday, 28 February, 2020

US making humanitarian trade with Iran even worse: Experts

xperts believe new American financial instructions on how to process humanitarian aid for Iran would lead to more people and entities being affected by Washington’s extensive sanctions on the country.

Richard Nephew, a former sanctions expert and Iran nuclear negotiator at the US State Department, said that the new US humanitarian mechanism to ensure transparency into humanitarian trade with Iran was nothing more than a trap that would help Washington to identify people dealing with the country and impose sanctions on them.

“I suspect most will see this mechanism less as a humanitarian channel and more as an intelligence gathering function to enable additional US sanctions,” said Nephew in a post of Twitter, adding, “For those of us seeking a real channel, this ain’t it.”

Under the new rules issued by the US Departments of the Treasury and State, banks and financial institutions outside of the US are supposed to report on a monthly basis to Washington any link they have with Iranian financial institutions.

That would enable them to seek the consent of Treasury and State whether their actions do comply with the American sanctions.

Experts believe the new measure, which comes under Section 311 of the USA PATRIOT Act, would force the banks and institutions, especially those in Europe, to terminate their trade of food and medicine with Iran out of fears that they would be blacklisted by the US

Tyler Cullis, an attorney who specializes in sanctions law with Ferrari & Associates, told the news and analysis website Al-Monitor that banks would prefer to end their relations with Iran altogether rather than reporting to the US authorities that they maintain accounts for or on behalf of Iranian financial institutions.

“Not a single banker in the world will look at that and say, ‘yeah, we will do that.’ Not a single one,” said Cullis, adding that Swiss banks have already informed Treasury that they will close the accounts of the Iranian banks they use for humanitarian trade if Washington goes forward with the Section 311 ruling.

A former official at Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, the body that does bulk of the work on sanctions targeting Iran, said Washington’s alleged attempt to increase transparency in humanitarian trade with Iran would only incriminate more people in the framework of the sanctions imposed on the country.

“This does not help, and in fact probably makes the situation worse,” said Brian O’Toole in a tweet, adding, “It’s like they’re trying to force Europe to scream and pound the table.”

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