Key Points

The importers of Iranian petrochemicals continue to include both U.S. allies as well as rivals. Countries that share a land border with Iran – including Turkey, Pakistan, Iraq, and Afghanistan – remain among its best customers; so do two Persian Gulf states – the UAE and Oman – that share maritime borders. This geographical proximity means that Tehran could easily smuggle payments back home in the form of either foreign currency or precious metals. Curbing Iran’s petrochemical exports will require intense negotiation with countries that are prepared to find new suppliers. An aggressive use of sanctions and other punitive measures may be needed for those who refuse to comply.

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The Trump administration has not shied away from aggressive diplomacy to go after Mahan Air. It should redouble its efforts now to ensure that Tehran’s attempt to offer a lifeline to the Maduro regime fails completely.

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Finally, the U.S. should seek agreement with China but be prepared to wield sanctions and other punitive measures. Telecom giant Huawei is already facing federal charges for violating sanctions on Iran and then destroying evidence of it. The president should be wary of hollow promises from Beijing that entail no meaningful change in its behavior.

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While Ankara boasts of its commitment to defeating the Islamic State, Turkey continues to be a major jurisdiction for illicit finance – evident also in its facilitation of Iranian and Venezuelan sanctions evasion schemes. The U.S. should urge Ankara to adopt a zero tolerance policy toward terror finance, and to end its permissive policies and lenient treatment of jihadist networks within Turkey. Rather than jailing dissident academics, journalists, and opposition politicians, Ankara should instead focus its law enforcement resources on the jihadist networks and financiers who threaten Turkey’s national security.

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