The chairman of Iran's National Center for Persian Carpets says she plans to file a complaint against the United States at international tribunals for the sanctions Washington has imposed on handwoven Persian carpets.
Fereshteh Dastpak told Iran's official news agency, IRNA, on July 28 that "handwoven Persian carpets belong to the people of Iran," and described U.S. sanctions against buying and selling carpets around the world as "a mistake."
The U.S. Treasury Department barred U.S. companies from importing Persian carpets from Iran on June 27 following the U.S. withdrawal from the nuclear deal with Iran, also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), on May 8.
"Based on international protocols, what belongs to a nation cannot be subjected to sanctions," IRNA quoted Dastpak as saying.
She said that the National Center for Persian Carpets, along with carpet weavers and dealers' trade unions, are working to have Persian carpets removed from the list of U.S. sanctions against Iran based on international conventions and protocols.
Persian carpets are the second-most important item on the list of Iran's exports. Iran exports Persian carpets to some 80 countries, but 30 percent of its carpet exports go to the United States, one of the biggest markets for handwoven carpets.
Exporting carpets is particularly vital for the sustainability of business for carpet weavers and dealers in Iran, as economic hardships in Iran have affected domestic sales.
It is also a way of creating revenues in hard currency for companies that have suffered from the devaluation of the national currency, the rial, particularly over the past six months when the rate of exchange for the U.S. dollar nearly tripled, reaching from over 30,000 rials in February to over 100,000 rials in late July.
The Iranian Students News Agency (ISNA) reported on July 29 that the rate of exchange for the U.S. dollar reached a new milestone of more than 100,000 rials and the price of standard gold coin reached more than 40 million rials.
The price rise affected the rate of exchange for other foreign currencies, too, as one euro was being traded for more than 120,000 rials on the Tehran market as of July 29, ISNA reported.
The rises in exchange rates and prices of gold took place within a few days of the appointment of a new governor for the Central Bank of Iran, a measure to tackle the economic crisis that is partly caused by the U.S. pull-out from the nuclear deal with Iran and the sanctions to be implemented in August and November.
The recent war of words between Iranian and U.S. officials led to the worsening of the situation, say reports from Tehran.
U.S. sanctions affecting exports of Persian carpets are not unprecedented. The U.S. government banned imports of Persian carpets originating from Iran for a few decades before the Clinton administration lifted the ban on importing carpets, pistachios, caviar, and dried fruit from Iran in the 1990s.
In the meantime, weavers in China and Pakistan copied Persian carpet designs and took Iran's place on the world market.
The U.S. government enforced the ban on importing Iranian carpets again on 2010. The ban led to a drop in Iran's carpet exports to the United States from $80 million per annum to zero. Following the 2015 nuclear deal with the West and the lifting of the ban on importing Persian carpets to the United States, Iran renewed $90 million of carpet exports per annum, according to IRNA.