Having learned a harsh lesson a quarter of a century ago, Iran is preparing itself financially for possible United Nations sanctions.
Iran is moving its foreign assets to an undisclosed destination, apparently to shield them from any U.N. sanctions over its nuclear program, the central bank governor was quoted as saying on Friday.
Iran, threatened with referral to the Security Council for possible punitive measures, has bitter memories of its U.S. assets being frozen shortly after the 1979 Islamic revolution.
“We transfer foreign reserves to wherever we see as expedient. On this issue, we have started transferring. We are doing that,” Ebrahim Sheibani told the ISNA students’ news agency when asked about the need to shift Iran’s holdings.
There was no immediate confirmation of the Iranian action, but Sheibani’s remarks indicated how seriously the Islamic republic is taking the threat of U.N. sanctions.
The West suspects Iran of seeking nuclear weapons under the cover of a civilian atomic program. Tehran denies this.
The United States and the European Union want the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to refer Iran to the Security Council when the U.N. nuclear watchdog’s governing board holds an emergency meeting on February 2.
Russia and China, which both have major commercial interests at stake in Iran, have urged caution.
China’s state-run press on Friday urged Iran to halt nuclear work and return to talks with Britain, France and Germany, but argued against taking Tehran to the Security Council.
“Negotiations remain the best option, as sanctions will muddy the waters,” the China Daily said in an editorial. “The crux of the matter is encouraging Iran to come back to negotiations with the European Union.”
The EU trio scrapped the talks last week after Iran removed IAEA seals on uranium enrichment equipment and resumed a suspended nuclear research program. U.S. and EU officials say there can be no more talks unless Tehran reverses these steps.
“The international consensus is unmistakable and important,” said the China Daily, which generally echoes official thinking. “Iran should respond to the diplomatic efforts of the international community.”
Europe cuts off donations and pushes for referral to the UNSC. China urges more, certainly pointless negotiations. Iran begins a financial three-card monte.
Follow the money.
ISNA asked Sheibani whether the money was being moved to Asian accounts, as reported in the London-based Asharq al-Awsat, which said on Thursday that Iran’s Supreme National Security Council had ordered foreign holdings to be sent to Asia.
Sheibani did not say where the funds were going. He told reporters earlier this week that Iran stood ready to repatriate the money it held abroad should this prove necessary.
It is far from clear how placing assets in Asia or anywhere abroad would protect them from being frozen as few governments or major banks would be willing to flout U.N. sanctions openly. [emphasis added]
Sure, go ahead and get this matter to the UNSC. That is a mere formality already doomed to worthlessness in the matter. As I’ve stated in the past, this matter will almost certainly only end in flames.