Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Eye on Iran: IMF Says Sanctions on Iran Dampening Economic Sentiment

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Uncertainty surrounding the sanctions on Iran and its relations with the United States pose a risk to the oil-producing nation's economy, the International Monetary Fund said Monday. The comments were a reference to the new sanctions the Trump administration imposed early this month on individuals and companies supporting Iran's ballistic missile program and the Revolutionary Guards military force... The IMF's annual report on Iran's economy, known as the Article IV review, said "renewed uncertainty regarding sanctions is dampening sentiment." The IMF staff said in their assessment the country benefited from higher oil production and is expected to grow 6.6 percent in 2016/2017, before easing to 3.3 percent in the next year. However, the uncertainty surrounding the nuclear agreement "and especially relations with the US, could deter investment and trade with Iran and short-circuit the anticipated recovery," the report cautioned. "If the agreement is derailed, the economy could risk recession." Reimposing sanctions "would lower direct investment and capital inflows, and disconnect Iran from the global financial system." Jafar Mojarrad, IMF executive director for Iran, noted that, "Regrettably, remaining US sanctions and related uncertainty have hindered the return of global banks to the Iranian market and continue to hamper large-scale investment and trade."

Victims of terror attacks against Americans in the 1970s, '80s and '90s will start receiving checks in coming weeks from a $1.1 billion compensation fund carved out of a settlement struck between the U.S. government and a French bank, BNP Paribas SA. The government last week began sending out letters notifying roughly 2,300 victims or their surviving relatives they were in line for money from the fund, which was established by Congress in 2015. The fund is designed to compensate people who were injured in terror attacks before 2001 as well as the families of those killed. Those include victims of the 1998 U.S. embassy bombings in Africa, the 1983 and 1984 attacks on the U.S. Embassy in Beirut, the families of the hostages taken at the U.S. Embassy in Iran in 1979, and the family of Malcolm Kerr, a university president in Beirut when he was killed by terrorists in 1984. One of Mr. Kerr's sons, Steve Kerr, is now a basketball coach in the NBA... The settlement follows charges that BNP evaded U.S. sanctions against Iran and other countries for years, creating a tie between the wrongdoing and the issue of terrorism.

Defense Minister Brigadier General Hossein Dehqan said Monday that Iran has successfully test-fired the latest version of a submarine-launched cruise missile (SLCM) named 'Nasir' during Velayat-95 military war game conducted by the Iranian naval forces. 'During the military drills in the Iranian territorial waters in the South, the new model of the SLCM named Nasir was test-fired and successfully hit its target,' he said.


Iran's economy rebounded out of a recession after the nuclear deal with world powers, the International Monetary Fund said on Tuesday, though uncertainty over future sanctions and problems plaguing the country's domestic banks could cause fiscal trouble ahead. Iran's real gross domestic product grew by 7.4 percent, buoyed by the quick re-entry of Iranian oil on the international market, according to the IMF. Inflation also dropped to single digits while GDP growth is expected to stabilize around 4.5 percent, the IMF said. But ordinary Iranians largely have yet to see any of the benefits from the nuclear accord, which saw some international sanctions lifted in exchange for Iran limiting its uranium enrichment. Meanwhile, concerns persist about what a harder line, promised by the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump, will mean for the Islamic Republic. "The lifting of sanctions and (Iran's) ambitious reform agenda are yet to produce their full beneficial impact on the Iranian economy," Jafar Mojarrad, an IMF executive director, wrote in an addendum to the report. "Regrettably, remaining U.S. sanctions and related uncertainty have hindered the return of global banks to the Iranian market and continue to hamper large-scale investment and trade."

Russia's No. 2 oil producer Lukoil hopes to reach a deal to develop two oilfields in Iran in April, Chief Executive Vagit Alekperov said on Monday. Lukoil said last month that it was in talks with the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) on taking part in development of the Abe Timur and Mansuri fields in central-western Iran. It said it would start talks on contractual terms if Iran agrees to the development plans Lukoil has already submitted. "A large number of our experts have been working in Iran. Once the (new) oil law in Iran is in place - it has not been completed yet - we, with the current pace of work, will be able to be ready for signing the deal in April," the veteran chief executive told Reuters.

Total is in talks to buy a multi-billion dollar stake in Iran's partly-built liquefied natural gas (LNG) export facility, Iran LNG, seeking to unlock vast gas reserves. The French oil major -- the first of its peers to strike deals in Iran after sanctions -- seeks entry into Iran LNG at a discount to the pre-sanctions price in exchange for reviving the stalled project, two sources with knowledge of the matter said. A third source confirmed Total was in the running for a stake, alongside several other oil majors, but any deal was still some way off. Total declined to comment. Iran's National Gas Export Co. (NIGEC), a central stakeholder in the project, did not respond to requests for comment by email and phone. "Iran is trying to revamp its oil and gas projects and the abandoned LNG plant is one of them," the third source added.

State-owned energy company Pertamina will submit proposals to the Iranian government for the exploration of two oil fields in the country, a press statement says. The statement, issued by the Office of the Coordinating Economic Minister, says the proposals will be submitted during a visit of Coordinating Economic Minister Darmin Nasution to the country from Feb. 26 to 27. "The oil fields are located in Ab Teymour and Mansouri, Bangestan province, the eastern part of Iran," said a press statement on Monday. Based on a study conducted by Pertamina, the oil reserves in the two fields amount to 1.5 billion barrels. "The production potential reaches 200,000 barrel per day in each field," the statement says. Previously, Energy and Mining Resources Deputy Minister Archandra Tahar previously expressed the government's wish to do business in Iran.

A new player has been created in Iran's industrial gas industry, as The Linde Group and Delvar Afzar Industrial Gases have teamed up in a joint venture. The Tier One corporation and Delvar Afzar Industrial Gases, part of the Delvar Afzar Industrial Group, have united under the name 'Linde Delvar Afzar Industrial Gases' (LDAIG). It is understood that in pooling strengths and leveraging the assets of both parties, LDAIG aims to become a leading supplier of industrial merchant gases and healthcare gases in the Middle Eastern country. The company also aims to implement an industrial gas culture and develop new sales for molecules including both liquids and gases. Delvar Afzar's facilities will provide the majority of the company's liquid gases supply. Linde CEO Professor Dr. Aldo Belloni, Linde Board Member Bernd Eulitz and Dr. Iraj Ghorbani, CEO of Delvar Afzar Industrial Group, signed the agreement to establish the new organisation on 17th January in Iran.

Iran's Rise Investment and Strategy Extension Company (RISECO) and France's Mecaplast Group signed a joint venture deal on manufacturing auto parts, IRNA reported on Friday. The deal, which was signed by Rise Holding Group's Chairman of the Board Hamidreza Samadi and Mecaplast's CEO Pier Boulet in Paris, focuses on production of automotive engine and decorative parts. As Samadi informed, according to the penned deal, 30 percent of the jointly manufactured products will be exported. The signing ceremony was also attended by Iran's Ambassador to Paris Ali Ahani.


In the midst of the usual Washington cacophony, most are missing the point that the Trump administration is beginning to lay the foundations of a sensible Iran policy. The Islamist regime that has been busy over the past few years brandishing a narrative of success with its triumphs in the region seems unsettled by the tough-talking new Trump team. An uneasy Iran is likely to be a hesitant one, hunkering down until the storm passes. It is the Trump administration's task to ensure the storm lingers over Tehran. This is not the first time the theocratic regime has faced a hard-hitting American adversary. The well-honed Iranian strategy of dealing with such challenges is to behave with caution until the United States gets distracted by another crisis and then to resume their nefarious activities in full force. It is a formula that has historically served the regime well, as Iran and its machinations have not remained an important priority for even hawkish administrations with too many other entanglements... The task at hand for the Trump administration is to build on its initial success and to develop a systematic and disciplined approach to Iran that will not be distracted by other competing mandates. Despite its grandiose pretensions, the Iranian regime is disdained by its neighbors. A state whose primary instruments of power are terrorism and subversion and whose closest allies are Hezbollah and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad does not have too many adherents in the region. Still, the clerical regime's principal vulnerability remains at home as it rules over a restive population tired of its cruelty and corruption.

Eye on Iran is a periodic news summary from United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI) a program of the American Coalition Against Nuclear Iran, Inc., a tax-exempt organization under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Eye on Iran is not intended as a comprehensive media clips summary but rather a selection of media elements with discreet analysis in a PDA friendly format. For more information please email press@uani.com.

United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI) is a non-partisan, broad-based coalition that is united in a commitment to prevent Iran from fulfilling its ambition to become a regional super-power possessing nuclear weapons.  UANI is an issue-based coalition in which each coalition member will have its own interests as well as the collective goal of advancing an Iran free of nuclear weapons.

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