Revolutionary Guard Wants Iran to ‘Flourish’ Under Sanctions

Tehran can flourish under sanctions and will defeat Washington in the economic war it has launched, the deputy head of the Revolutionary Guards said on Wednesday, Reuters writes.

The United States on Monday re-imposed sanctions on Iran’s oil, banking and transport sectors and threatened more action to stop Tehran’s missile and nuclear programs and curb its influence in countries such as Syria, Yemen and Lebanon.

“The enemy is trying to strike a blow against Iran through a soft war and an economic war but they will face a heavy defeat,” Revolutionary Guards Brigadier General Hossein Salami was quoted as saying by the state news agency IRNA.

“Iran has been able to advance in any area that the enemy has placed sanctions on Islamic Iran,” he said.

Meanwhile, as the sanctions start to bite, Western companies still doing business in Iran face fresh hurdles in a market that has been both enticing and tough to crack, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Over the past two decades, many Western firms have quietly sunk roots in the Islamic Republic thanks to food, medical and other exemptions from U.S. Treasury Department sanctions on the country. As a result, Coke and Pepsi are available everywhere in a market of roughly 82 million people. Iranian hospitals use ultrasound and MRI equipment made by General Electric Co., and Iranians are able to turn to medicines made by Pfizer Inc. and AstraZeneca PLC to treat their illnesses.

One executive who focuses on Iran for a large multinational consumer-goods company told the Journal that the market had shown promise before President Trump withdrew the U.S. from the Iran nuclear deal in May.

“I considered [Iran] to be the next big thing because of the huge population and the huge size of the country. Everything was needed, and a lot of big things were expected and huge plans were put in place. People built teams and offices to cater for the business,” the executive said.

As the U.S. reimposed economic sanctions on his country, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Iran would bypass the measures and “make America regret” reinstating them.

The Trump administration has made clear that it still doesn’t intend to target food and medical trade. But doing business in Iran, even for those Western companies that continue to operate there legally, has become much more difficult as fresh sanctions have closed off critical finance channels.

Entities hit with U.S. sanctions Monday included 50 Iranian financial institutions that are now prohibited from providing crucial financing for trade. In another blow, the Belgium-based bank-messaging system Swift cut ties with Iran’s lenders, making international transfers all but impossible.

Novo Nordisk A/S, the Danish pharmaceutical giant, said it was too early to discuss the impact on the company’s new insulin-products plant, one of the first European pharmaceutical investments in Iran after the nuclear deal in 2015. But a spokeswoman acknowledged limits on the company’s banking options “will make it more difficult to run our business than previously,” the Journal added.

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