You are hereBlogs / Stephen Lendman's blog / Illegitimate Sanctions on Iran

Illegitimate Sanctions on Iran

By Stephen Lendman - Posted on 03 August 2012

  Illegitimate Sanctions on Iran


by Stephen Lendman


Washington bears full responsibility for imposing illegitimate sanctions on Iran. Other countries are pressured to agree. Doing so harms their own interests.


Heavy-handed US bullying largely gets its way. Rule of law principles and norms are violated. At issue is advancing Washington's imperium.


America's 1977 International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA) lets presidents claim unusual and/or extraordinary foreign threats, declare a national emergency, and regulate commerce accordingly.


Presidents have taken full advantage deceptively, unjustifiably, and illegally.


In November 1979, Washington seized $12 billion in Iranian government bank deposits, securities, gold, and other properties. They included $5.6 billion held by overseas branches of US banks.


A full trade embargo followed. In January 1981, it was lifted under provisions of the Algiers Accords. Most Iranian assets were unblocked. Nonetheless, Iranian Assets Control Regulations remained in effect.


For decades, Washington ruthlessly targeted Iran and its people. It continues relentlessly today. More on that below.


Ronald Reagan imposed Iranian sanctions. Fraudulent pretexts were used. They included claiming Tehran supports international terrorism and aggressively acts against Persian Gulf shipping.


Reagan's 1987 Executive Order (EO) 12613 embargoed Iranian goods and services.


In March 1995, Clinton's EO 12957 prohibited US involvement with Iranian oil development. His 1995 EO 12959 substantially tightened sanctions further. His 1997 EO 13059 prohibited virtually all trade and investments with Iran.


In 1996, the Iran and Libya Sanctions Act (ILSA) became law. In 2006, it was renamed the Iran Sanctions Act (ISA).


It prohibited US and foreign oil development investments. Violators face stiff penalties. They include denial of Export-Import Bank of the United States help, rejection of export licenses, and a ban on all or some violating company imports.


In 2008, banks and other US depository institutions were prohibited from processing transfers between Iranian and non-Iranian banks.


In 2010, America's Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability, and Divestment Act (CISADA) became law. It extended sanctions imposed by the 1996 Iran Sanctions Act. It punishes companies doing business with Tehran's oil sector and went further.


Section 103 prohibited importing certain Iranian foodstuffs and carpets. Other provisions banned other Iranian product and service imports directly or through third countries


Exporting goods, technology, or services are prohibited, including from offshore locations. Some humanitarian related exceptions were made.


Overall, US individuals and companies located anywhere are prohibited from engaging in dealings of any kind. They include purchases, sales, transportation, swaps, financing, or brokering transactions related to goods or services of Iranian private or government origin.


On July 1, an EU oil import embargo took effect. It covers crude oil, petroleum and petrochemical products, oil related businesses, equipment and technology, selling Tehran's refined products, new investments, and dealing with its central bank.


Europe buys up to 20% of its oil from Iran. Ending it means greater strain on economically stressed countries. Higher prices exacerbate problems.


Washington granted India, Malaysia, South Korea, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Turkey and Taiwan waivers. In March, other countries got 180-day exemptions. Currently, 20 nations have qualified waivers.


Japan increased its Iranian oil purchases. China relies on Iranian oil and buys it freely. So do other nations. On August 1, the House overwhelmingly (421 - 6) passed the Iran Sanctions, Accountability and Human Rights Act of 2012. The Senate passed it unanimously. Doing so mocks rule of law legitimacy.


New sanctions imposed include punishing financial institutions, insurers, and shippers involved in helping Iran sell oil. Previous loopholes were closed. An illegal embargo was tightened.


Prohibitions were enacted against companies involved in mining uranium with Iran; selling, leasing or providing oil tanker services; or offering insurance to the National Iranian Tanker Company.


Overall, the measure penalizes anyone involved with Iran's oil, petrochemical, or natural gas industries. Earlier sanctions imposed were hardened.


Ahead of the House vote, Obama ordered new sanctions on Iran's energy and financial sectors. By Executive Order he prohibited foreign financial institutions from doing business with Iran. Violators face stiff penalties.


Specifically, Iran's oil, petroleum products, and petrochemicals were targeted.


Separately, the Treasury Department sanctioned China's Bank of Kunlun and Iraq's Elaf Islamic Bank for providing financial services to Iranian banks.


Beijing reacted furiously. Relations between the two countries are strained. Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said Washington violated "norms of international relations." 


"The U.S. has invoked domestic law to impose sanctions on a Chinese financial institution, and this is a serious violation of international rules that harms Chinese interests."


Sanctions and International Law


The General Assembly's 1974 Charter of Economic Rights and Duties of States says no nation may use or encourage use of economic, political or other measures to coerce another country to to subordinate its sovereign rights in any way. 


Under Part IV, Section 1, Chapter III, Article 54 of the Protocol 1 Additional to the Geneva Conventions (1977):  


(1) Starving civilians during war is prohibited. 


(2) Attacking, destroying, removing, or compromising indispensable items is prohibited. They include foodstuffs, crops, livestock, drinking water installations and supplies, irrigation works, and other essential products, services, and facilities relating to them. 


UN General Assembly Resolution 44/215 (1989) prohibits political and economic coercion against developing countries. 


It specifically covers trade and financial restrictions, blockades, embargoes, and other economic sanctions. It calls them incompatible with UN Charter provisions. They adversely affect the ability of nations to function politically, economically and socially. They harm civilians most.


The International Conference on Nutrition, World Declaration on Nutrition, Food and Agriculture Organization, and World Health Organization (1992) recognized the right to access nutritionally adequate and safe food as a fundamental right.


US Code defines international terrorism as follows:


A. "violent acts or acts dangerous to human life that are a violation of the criminal laws of the United States or of any State, or that would be a criminal violation if committed within the jurisdiction of the United States or of any State;


B. appear to be intended -


i. to intimidate or coerce a civilian population;


ii. to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or


iii. to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping; and


C. occur primarily outside the territorial jurisdiction of the United States...."


The US Army Operational Concept for Terrorism (TRADOC Pamphlet No. 525-37, 1984) shortens the definition to be "the calculated use of violence or threat of violence to attain goals that are political, religious, or ideological in nature....through intimidation, coercion, or instilling fear."


Crimes against humanity breach fundamental international law. Civilian populations must be protected at all times.


Illegitimate sanctions harm human rights grievously. They violate international laws and norms. Targeting nonbelligerent countries ups the ante.


On July 31, Iranian lawmaker Seyyed Hossein Naqavi Hosseini denounced Western sanctions, saying:


"The sanctions in the area of health and similar fields are a violation of human rights, and can be legally pursued."


On July 29, Iranian Presidential Center for International Legal Affairs head Majid Jafarzadeh said Tehran will take legal action against America and European countries.


"The complaint will be registered and pursued soon, based on international regulations," he said.


Ron Paul calls Iranian sanctions an act of war. The New New England Journal of Medicine called them "a war against public health." 


They also violate World Trade Organization (WTO) provisions. WTO members may curb trade with other nations for security reasons. Doing so on dealings with third countries has no legal legitimacy.


Iran is nonbelligerent. It's lawful and non-threatening. Its nuclear program complies fully with Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty provisions.


Challenging Washington in the WTO's Dispute Resolution Mechanism would likely succeed. 


Francis Boyle urges Iran to sue Washington, Britain and France at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) if they refuse to negotiate directly and continue making belligerent threats.


Add Israel and make it a quartet. It menaces the region.


In early July, Boyle told Press TV if someone refuses "to talk to you, sue them, and then they have to talk to you."


If Washington won't engage in direct negotiations, "Iran should the World Court, protect itself, and then by means of the World Court proceeding, force negotiations which Iran can do."


If crisis conditions escalate, Iran should also sue Britain and France, said Boyle. It should request an "emergency hearing," and use it to prevent war or other belligerent acts.


A restraining order could be gotten. It would prevent "any type of prevent the imposition of further economic sanctions....and pursuit of" additional ones.


Blockades are acts of war. Multiples rounds of sanctions targeting vital state functions have similar effects if pushed too far. Ones in place now violate fundamental human rights.


They're illegal. Iran should sue. Unlike the International Criminal Court, ICJ rulings are more measured and just. It called Israel's Apartheid Wall illegal.


It ruled for Nicaragua during Washington's Contra war. It condemned American terrorism against its people. It awarded Managua $17 billion. Reagan administration officials ignore it. They then blocked Security Council enforcement.


Nonetheless, a precedent was set. It was repeated against Israel. Iran stands a good chance of prevailing. Proceeding posthaste is wise.


Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at 


His new book is titled "How Wall Street Fleeces America: Privatized Banking, Government Collusion and Class War"


Visit his blog site at and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.    



 It should seem obvious to those who are informed and think that sanctions based on outright lies are illegal sanctions, provocations, acts of war and reflects the lunacy, political madness of class elites who are disconnected from reality, deliberately opportunistic, sociopathic as class politicians, anti social, degenerating into psychopathic mass psychosis, as much of class history has done, deforming Human Nature through class systems through the milleniums of a deformed totalitarian class history.  "Original sins" like "greed" and "warmongering are NOT in our DNA, human nature, but reflect the class deformed functions of class hierarchies and its class shills, thugs, who serve parasitical class systems, while falsely claiming social principles, using social rhetoric, promoting class myths.  Class dogma ALWAYS betrays the social classes, ALWAYS, hoodwinks those uninformed, misinformed, self inflicted, self enslaved ideological idiots,  who think that voting for class parties, class ideologies brings about social outcomes, social control, when at best, social reforms never accomplish the former through evolutionary progress, instead, degenerate, devolve through endless class cycles into more CLASS LUNACY.     At best these social reforms are temporary and can be dismantled, hence the class myth of a lessor class-evil, re-enforced by a mass effect of stubborn ideologues, especially liberals, to throw away their vote for class parties, class politicians, in the false hope that class systems can produce social control, represent social power and their social demands, through this class myth, almost like expecting Elephants to birth kittens, or expecting class systems to birth the social historical mechanism, social power and control that once existed before class history, before it deformed both the Social Matriarchay into a Patriarchal class mechanism:

Baying for Blood

The Netanyahu Lunacy on Iran


"In rare moments of lucidity, even the mythological “average Israeli” feels that our less than splendid isolation is intolerable. We are constantly brainwashed by our establishment, and the endless bombardments combining biblical rhetoric, alarmist prophesies and demagogic evocations of the holocaust confuse even the elitist circles, despite their liberal self-image and professed Western outlook. This increasingly pervasive syndrome can partially account for our sheepish acquiesce with the rampant rumours and speculations about the forthcoming Israeli attack on Iran. The consequences of such aggression are abundantly clear for most educated Israelis, even right-wingers. Yet, the current mood dictates certain apathy, very untypical in saner epochs. What has happened to our judgement, critical faculties and rebellious propensities? How can one reconcile the complete loss of faith with our institutions including the IDF with the fatalistic acceptance of our fate? There is no clear cut explanation, only pessimistic theories and general air of resignation, unprecedented in our country’s history.

In every political discussion one hears well-connected politicians and commentators list the most likely scenarios and the conclusions are normally somber. The prevalent assessments fail to grasp the logic behind the almost inevitable aggression. The nuclear capabilities of Iran are likely to remain intact; the retaliation by the Iranians is bound to be harsh; the attack on Iranian territory will unite the entire Moslem world against Israel; there will be no international sympathy towards Israel even in the terrible case of death to thousands of people here; most Americans will interpret, and not without reason, the Israeli operation as an attempt by Binyamin Netanyahu to subvert the relatively liberal regime in Washington and to help the reactionary Republican party in its election campaign...."


The historical function of the Patriarchal class mechanism and all its class systems through the milleniums of class history is to serve class power, parasitical ruling classes, through class hierarchies and its divisible, deformed, partially developed middle layers, class professionals, who are completely DEPENDENT, NOT IN CONTROL OF THE SOCIAL HISTORICAL MECHANISM, shifted into class layered positions.   The social historical mechanism was captured, deformed, usurped, thousands of years ago, when social wealth and labor, or the means of production was in the hands of the Patriarchy, the first class system and its historical deformed, class mechanism.   The artisans, priests, militaries, and police, jurist elites did not have independent social control, instead, had privileged, parceled out class wealth, as an inducement, generic blackmail, to serve the parasitical ruling classes.  As Wiki Leaks has already demonstrated in spades, these class elites, class shills, Empire thugs reproduce generic class corruption and political BLACKMAIL, threatening, inverting reality, co opting, and corrupting social power into the LUNACY , POLITICAL MADNESS OF ALL CLASS SYSTEMS.  These class whores/thugs in their class hierarchies tied to the Patriarchal class mechanism is able to enslave Humanity through many forms of slavery, whether commercial African slaves, or Fascist austerity, of enslaved, whole nations.  These deformed middle class professionals are no more independent, indivisible, then their enslaved, lower class levels, unable to break the INHERENT CLASS SLAVERY AND CLASS PATRITOISM, class nationalism, subject to the inherent inverted totalitarianism, Orwellian, false class rationalization, of its class principle, which explains why Post colonial nations, Deformed Stalinist, workers states were locked into the same Patriarchal class mechanism, global class/totalitarian Matrix,  ALL DIVISIBLE, ALL DEPENDENT, ALL PART OF THE PATRIARCHAL CLASS SYSTEM, and falsely compared with each other, since the source of failure was its original class failure:

U.S. Political Madness and Obsession with Iran



Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu today in Jerusalem. Reuters

        "The U.S. political madness and obsession with Iran's nuclear program went a step further yesterday as the president issued an executive order and a bipartisan group of House and Senate leaders met and agreed to tighten sanctions against Iranian "shipping of oil and other products".

This came days after Mitt Romney, on a foreign policy sojourn to Israel this past weekend opined, "America's highest national security priority" is preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, that "no option is off the table" in making sure that doesn't happen and that containment of Iran "is not an option". Meanwhile his top foreign policy aide, Dan Senor intimated Romney "was ready to support a unilateral military strike by Israel" on Iran's nuclear facilities.

Not to be outdone by the Romney bombast on Iran, Obama had some administration officials pointing out sanctions were having a "deep economic impact" on Iran, driving down its "oil exports by 40 to 50% thus reducing revenue by $9 billion each quarter."

So it's tit for tat in this year's presidential sweepstakes as the two major party contenders contend to see who is tougher on Iran; that country being the convenient punching bag and chief bogey man.

If only the Iranian nuclear program controversy constituted the usual "political football" we see every four years then it would amount to nothing more than a food fight in a college dining hall. Unfortunately, that is not the case. 

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (last seen glad handing candidate Romney in Jerusalem last Saturday) has been chomping at the bit for months wanting to attack Iran's nuclear facilities. That desire was heightened   recently by his blaming Iran for being behind last weeks bombing of a tourist bus in Bulgaria that killed five Israeli vacationers, (this without having any conclusive evidence and while the results of a Bulgarian investigation of the incident were still in progress).

Then there's Romney in Israel further roiling the waters, spoiling for a war with Iran.

To be sure, Iran has been affected by the punishing economic sanctions placed upon it (which affects ordinary Iranians directly while doing nothing to shake the hold of the clerical regime). Yet Iran refuses to be cowed and intimidated by U.S. and Israeli military threats, the two American aircraft carrier groups patrolling in the Persian Gulf, the assassination of Iranian nuclear scientists in Iran or the U.S./Israeli "stuxnet" cyber warfare computer worm that disrupted centrifuges enriching uranium..."     ..............  


The Social Matriarchy, which was linked to the Social historical mechanism, as an independent, indivisible social agency, did have social control over human relations, over wealth and labor, as the means of production called "primitive communism" , and became the model for the Social Enlightenment, to reclaim a social agency, independent, indivisible agency, that could reclaim social wealth, labor and the means of production, from the parasitical hand of the Patriarchal class systems, ending centuries of Feudal class tyranny, ending milleniums of Patriarchal class systems.   They called for "viable", universal, globally established, middle classes around the world, which would gain enough critical social forces to dissolve all class hierarchies, breaking the back of milleniums of Human enslavement by the Patriarchal class mechanism and its class systems.  Their social agenda to reclaim independent, indivisible, social power was called  Social Patriotism and the classical school of Eonomics was based on a social theory of wealth, theories of labor and values of commodities that ended the parasitical control of wealth, ended the tyrannical alliance between the class state and corporations which formed monopolies, setting up rigged, Zero games of social wealth into parasitical class wealth.  All social theorists from Plato to Smith to Marx understood that social wealth and labor is produced by social classes, NOT PARASTICIAL CLASSES, NOT CORPORATIONS.  Jobs and wealth are inherently social, which must be in the hands of indivisible, independent middle classes around the world.   Once Social power is usurped, as it was milleniums ago, enslaving Humanity through class systems, Socialism for the rich, like the ORWELLIAN CLASS PRINCIPLE, inverts it into totalitarian, enslaved, rigged, class systems and becomes as it was in Adam Smith's time, under the Feudal class state, totalitarian MERCANTILISM, and today under Late Capitalism, totalitarian system of Global Fascism, where all class parties defenerate into psychopaths, slave masters, warmongers, promoting the second Axis of Fascism, under Western Fascism, now a global criminal enterprises, global Fascism:      

The Western fascist, coercive form of diplomacy has degenerated into thuggery, criminality, totalitarianism, global fascism.  Wiki Leaks has exposed the failure of Western Enlightenment devolving into Western, global Fascism.   Every class system is rigged, corrupt, totalitarian using manufactured crisis, to promote their INVERTED REALITY, CLASS MYTHS AND HOAXES:

The Fate of Julian Assange


"Over a month ago, the founder and editor-in-chief of WikiLeaks, Julian Assange, entered the Ecuadorean embassy in the United Kingdom and requested political asylum. He has been holed up in the embassy ever since, waiting for the Ecuadorean government to decide on his request, which Ecuador Foreign Minister Ricardo Patiño says will come after the London Olympics. Assange also recently hired former Spanish judge Baltasar Garzón to represent his legal team. 

The Ecuadorean government appears to be seriously considering the possibility of granting Assange asylum. President Rafael Correa has said the situation is “not simple” and must be studied thoroughly before the country can announce a decision. Patiño has indicated Ecuador will release a document that may be “hundreds of pages” long, which will provide “sufficient justification” for the decision made because the country realizes it could have great “international impact.” And Anna Alban, Ecuador’s ambassador to the UK, flew to Ecuador on June 23 to meet with Correa and brief him on the application.

Statements made by both Correa and Patiño seem to favor Assange. Patiño told the press on July 5 he found the sexual assault allegations against Assange to be “hilarious” because they stem from a broken condom. On June 22, Correa said, “In Ecuador, if someone had done one hundredth of what has been done to Assange, they would be called dictators and oppressors.” Correa also later declared Ecuador “will consult with everyone” but the country will “make a sovereign decision” and not be pressured by Sweden, the UK or the United States. He made a key acknowledgment: the death penalty exists in the United States for “political crimes” and if Assange’s life is “at risk,” that would be “sufficient cause to approve his asylum.”

Officials have made it clear to Swedish authorities that they could come question Assange in the embassy at any time. They have sought diplomatic assurances from the UK and Swedish authorities that Assange would not be extradited to the United States, especially if he went to Sweden to be questioned. They’ve done what one might expect a country to do if they were preparing to grant an asylum request.

If Ecuador were to grant asylum, an agreement on “safe passage” would have to be worked out before Assange could leave the UK. The Metropolitan Police have served him with a notice that he is to be extradited to Sweden and accused him of violating his bail conditions by remaining in the Ecuadorean embassy. Without an agreement, the police would likely arrest him before he reached an airplane for Ecuador.

For making his asylum request, Assange has been criticized for being paranoid or considering himself above the law. His supporters have even faced scorn from commentators for defending his decision to exercise his legal right and seek asylum. So, what evidence exists to suggest Assange is right to consider himself a political target and not a common criminal?

The first sign is Swedish authorities have not questioned him yet. As Susan Benn of the Julian Assange Defense Fund stated on June 29, “Although it is normal procedure, Swedish authorities have refused, without reason, to make the three hour trip to London and to interview Julian causing him to be trapped in the UK under virtual house arrest” for over 500 days. Also, once in Sweden, Assange would be imprisoned immediately and not have any opportunity to seek asylum at any embassy in Sweden.

Another sign is the existence of a secret grand jury that has been empanelled in Alexandria, Virginia, to investigate WikiLeaks. Assange told Democracy Now!  that seven WikiLeaks staffers and volunteers have been subjected to this investigation. Google and Twitter have been issued subpoenas ordering the companies to turn over private data on users believed to be affiliated or connected to WikiLeaks, and the organization suspects that Facebook has also been issued similar subpoenas. The US government has subpoenaed WikiLeaks’s domain registrar, Dynadot, for server data. The government has subpoenaed for the private e-mails of WikiLeaks volunteer Jacob Appelbaum, who has been detained multiple times at airports by federal agents who have questioned him about his links to WikiLeaks.

Justice Department spokesperson Dean Boyd said in late June, “There continues to be an investigation into the WikiLeaks matter.” Also, in a June motion hearing in the case of Pfc. Bradley Manning, the soldier accused of releasing classified information to WikiLeaks, it was revealed that the FBI has a 42,135-page investigative file into WikiLeaks. Only 8,741 of the pages are allegedly relevant to Manning’s case. That means more than 30,000 of the other pages likely involve evidence the US government has on Assange and WikiLeaks staffers or volunteers. It is hard to imagine that this investigative file would be put together if the US government did not plan to prosecute someone. Not to mention, Manning is charged with “aiding the enemy” and military prosecutors have established in court that the “enemy” is Al Qaeda.

Finally, the political climate in the United States is ripe for an Assange extradition. Senator Dianne Feinstein, head of the US Senate Intelligence Committee, has renewed her call for Assange to be tried for “espionage.” Congress members have mounted a bipartisan offensive against “leaks” by President Barack Obama’s administration on Obama’s “kill list,” cyber warfare against Iran and a CIA underwear bomb plot sting operation in Yemen. The Obama administration has indicted an unprecedented number of people under the Espionage Act for “leaking” or whistleblowing. And, House Republicans have expressed support for jailing journalists if they don’t comply with a political witch hunt for “leakers.”






Speaking Events



August 2-6: Peace and Democracy Conference at Democracy Convention in Minneapolis, Minn.


September 22-24: No War 2017 at American University in Washington, D.C.


October 28: Peace and Justice Studies Association Conference

Find more events here.


Support This Site


Get free books and gear when you become a supporter.



Speaking Truth to Empire


Families United


Ray McGovern


Julie Varughese


Financial supporters of this site can choose to be listed here.



Ca-Dress Long Prom Dresses Canada
Ca Dress Long Prom Dresses on

Buy Books

Get Gear

The log-in box below is only for bloggers. Nobody else will be able to log in because we have not figured out how to stop voluminous spam ruining the site. If you would like us to have the resources to figure that out please donate. If you would like to receive occasional emails please sign up. If you would like to be a blogger here please send your resume.
This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
Enter the characters shown in the image.