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International sanctions against Iran

Published on 07/11/2013

International sanctions against Iran focus on key sectors such as defence, finance and oil with the aim of persuading Tehran to end its controversial nuclear programme.

The United Nations, the United States and the European Union have all adopted increasingly tough measures over the past seven years.

On October 3, US President Barack Obama’s administration urged lawmakers not to impose more sanctions on Iran as it seeks to respond to overtures from its new President Hassan Rouhani.


Since 2006, the UN Security Council has approved four series of sanctions:

– Resolution 1737 (December 23, 2006) imposes economic and commercial sanctions against 10 entities linked to Tehran’s nuclear and ballistic programmes. The assets of these entities and of 12 prominent figures are frozen.

– Resolution 1747 (March 24, 2007) freezes the assets of 13 new entities linked to the nuclear programme or the Iranian Revolutionary Guards. There is also an embargo on Iranian arms purchases and restrictions on loans to Iran.

– Resolution 1803 (March 3, 2008) hits more entities and individuals with a foreign assets freeze and travel ban. It also bans the supply of dual use items (civil and military) to Iran.

– Resolution 1929 (June 9, 2010) places new restrictions on Iranian investments and bans the sale to Iran of certain heavy arms (tanks, combat planes and helicopters). More names added to sanctions list.


Washington first imposed sanctions in the 1980s, banning businesses and individual Americans from trading with Iran except with Treasury Department approval.

– In 2008, the United States introduces further financial restrictions by banning American banks from acting as an intermediary for the transit of funds to and from Iran

– In July 2010, a law targets the supply of petrol to Iran, which is highly dependent on refined products, and punishes foreign groups investing in the Iranian oil sector.

– In November 2011, Washington beefs up its sanctions against individuals supporting the development of Iran’s oil sector. In December 2011, the assets of foreign financial institutions that trade with the Iranian Central Bank in the petrol sector are frozen.

– July 31, 2012: Obama imposes new economic sanctions on Iran’s oil export sector and on a pair of Chinese and Iraqi banks accused of doing business with Tehran.

– June 3, 2013: Washington announces new sanctions focused on the rial currency for the first time and also the auto sector.

– July 31, 2013: Three days before the investiture of new president Rouhani, the US House of Representatives approves new sanctions which would slap strict limits on Iran’s oil industry, the automobile and mining sectors. The legislation has yet to pass the Senate.


– July 26, 2010, the EU goes further than the UN, banning technical assistance or the transfer of oil technologies to Iran and the activity of some Iranian banks and adds names to the United Nations list of individuals banned from travelling. The measures focus on the Iranian Revolutionary Guards.

– In May and December 2011, the assets of 243 Iranian entities and around 40 more individuals are frozen and visa bans imposed.

– January 23, 2012. The EU agrees on a ban on Iran oil imports, effective July 1, and freezes the assets of the Iranian Central Bank.

– October 15, 2012: A new package of sanctions targets EU dealings with Iran’s banks, shipping and gas imports. A government minister is on the list.

– December 21, 2012: The EU adds 18 companies or institutions and one person to a blacklist of those targeted by an asset freeze and travel ban.