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Iran Says U.S. Violating Prior Treaties By Sanctioning Metals Industry

Isfahan steel works, established during the monarch, produces rails and other heavy products. File photo
Isfahan steel works, established during the monarch, produces rails and other heavy products. File photo

In a statement on Thursday, May 9, the Islamic Republic strongly condemned the latest U.S. sanctions targeting Iran's industrial metals sector.

Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesman, Abbas Mousavi, said Washington's decision to impose sanctions on the Islamic Republic's industrial metals violates the U.S. international commitments and makes the "regime" internationally accountable.

"These sanctions, like other unilateral U.S. sanctions, are in contravention of the basic principles and rules of international relations, and specifically in contravention of the international commitments under the UN Charter, the Algeria Declaration, the Treaty of Amity, and the International Court of Justice's ruling," the spokesman added.

By "Treaty of Amity" Mousavi was referring to a friendship agreement signed by Tehran and Washington in 1955 during the reign of the last Shah of Iran, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. The treaty emphasizes friendly relations while encouraging mutual trade and investments.

One of the most important ideological tenants of the overthrow of the Shah was to reduce ties with the U.S., which became a reality by the 444 days of keeping American diplomats hostage in Tehran in 1979-1980.

Moreover, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on October 3, 2018, that the United States was terminating the Treaty of Amity reached with Iran in pre-Islamic Revolution days, calling it an "absolute absurdity" given the tensions between the two countries.

Following Mr. Pompeo's announcement, the Islamic Republic's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif immediately branded the United States in a tweet as an "outlaw regime."

In legal terms, the United States withdrawal means that the termination of the 1955 treaty will come into effect a year after Mr. Pompeo's announcement, i.e., October 3, 2019.

Algeria Declaration mentioned by Mr. Mousavi is also a set of agreements between Tehran and Washington to resolve the Iran hostage crisis, brokered by the Algerian government and signed in Algiers on January 19, 1981.

In a new executive order, signed by President Donald Trump on May 8, he authorized sanctions on Iranian iron, steel, aluminum, and copper sectors, which the White House said comprise 10% of the Islamic Republic's export economy. The new sanctions could also target financial institutions or foreign countries that facilitate Iran's export of those industrial metals.

Even before the imposition of direct sanction on Iranian metals, the country's steel industry was badly hit by the earlier banking sanctions.

Condemning the new sanctions, Mousavi said in the statement, "The onus is on the U.S. regime to compensate for the damages caused by the fresh sanctions on Iran's metal industry."

Based on the annual report of the Industrial Development and Renovation Organization of Iran (IDRO), Tehran has exported nearly $3.9 billion of iron and its alloys in the last Iranian calendar year (ended March 20, 2019), while it also exported almost $700 million of copper, as well as more than $840 million iron ore.

Fourteen percent of Iran's non-oil exports are industrial metals, IDRO says.