News / Middle East

New Iran Sanctions Tighten Controls on Consumer Goods

Arash Arabasadi

Iran's government faces yet another new round of sanctions.  "CISADA"  -  the Comprehensive Iran Sanctions Accountability and Divestment Act -  was signed by U.S. President Barak Obama in July, and is scheduled to go into effect by September 29. 

For more than 30 years the United States has led the charge in sanctions against Iran, justifying them most recently by its suspicions about Iran's nuclear program.  Every Iranian leader from Ayatollah Ruhollah  Khomeini to Hashemi Rafsanjani has endured round after round of sanctions … only to remain defiant in the face of Western influence.  Loopholes have enabled commercial trade to continue but those loopholes now appear to be tightening.

Undersecretary of the U.S. Treasury Stuart Levey leads the office tasked with cutting the lines of financial support to international terrorists, Weapons of Mass Destruction proliferators, and other threats to national security.  At a Washington news conference, Levey linked the new sanctions against Iran to homeland security in the United States.

"Given the strong public record regarding Iran's illicit and deceptive activities, the operating presumption should be that virtually all transactions or financial services involving Iran could contribute to its nuclear or missile programs," he said.

Pistachio nuts
Pistachio nuts

But these new sanctions apply tighter controls than before on such consumer goods as Persian rugs and pistachio nuts - affecting both Iranian exporters and American importers.

Trial lawyer Erich Ferrari, a member of the Iranian-American Bar Association, says in that respect, the new sanctions may miss their mark. "Why rugs?  What are rugs going to do?  It's not as if the government of Iran is selling so many rugs that they're going to fuel their nuclear program behind it," said Ferrari.

Some Iranian-Americans agree. "These big governments, with sanctions, never hurt each other.  They only hurt the common people," said a man.

"I think that the embargo hurts the people.  If you stop selling foods or medicine to Iran, that will hurt the people," said another one.

Medicine may not actually be an issue.  Levey says the sanctions are not designed to withhold medicine as a bargaining chip, and that medical supplies will flow unobstructed. "Most countries in the discussions have led to arrangements being setup to ensure that that can continue to happen," he said.

And Ferrari says that sanctions in the past were later amended with a "general license" that allowed the continued, commercial trade of consumer goods.  He says that such an amendment remains a possibility.

"I would not be surprised by that.  They've said they won't, but who knows what the future will hold. With allowing those imports to come in, you're basically freeing up Iranian businesspeople to go back to doing what they do in the community, which is selling rugs, foodstuffs, those sort of items," he said.

Levey says the sanctions are not intended to hurt common people. "We hope that those that are inadvertently inconvenienced by those measures understand that it's the conduct of the government of Iran that is causing that inconvenience to them.  It's never an entirely perfect enterprise," he said.

Still, some Iranian-Americans remain concerned that the sanctions may put many businesspeople - both in Iran and in the U.S. - out of business.

"Those things will not help them to convince the government to stop nuclear power.  In terms of selling goods, I don't think this will help," said Behzad.

Eirch Ferrari of the Iranian-American Bar Association says, "Over the past 10 years, they've built these businesses up and they're profitable and successful, and the Iranian community supports these businesses. And now, they stand to lose everything."

With the latest round of sanctions just days away … the future seems uncertain for Iranians and Iranian-Americans on either side of the debate.  But at least one businessman, Abdi Parvizian, is taking a philosophical viewpoint.

"I am a businessman,"  he said. "If I can't sell rugs I'll sell couches.  If I can't sell couches I'll sell lamps.  After all, a businessman will find some sort of business."

You May Like

Obama: Alaskans Feel Signs of Climate Change

They're seeing bigger storm surges as sea ice melts, more wildfires, erosion of glaciers, shorelines More

1855 Slave Brochure Starkly Details Sale of Black Americans

Document lists entire families that were up for sale in New Orleans, offering graphic insight into the slavery trade More

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs