October 11, 2013 | Policy Brief

Iran’s Central Bank Governor at the World Bank/IMF Summit

October 11, 2013 | Policy Brief

Iran’s Central Bank Governor at the World Bank/IMF Summit

Valiollah Seif, Governor of the Central Bank of Iran (CBI), will be in Washington, DC October 11-13 to attend the Annual Meetings of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Ali Tayebnia, Iran’s Economy and Finance Minister, and Behrouz Alishiri, the country’s Vice Minister and President of the Organization for Investment, Economic, and Technical Assistance, are said to be accompanying him.

Their arrival coincides with Iran’s concerns that Congress is ready to introduce new sanctions against Iran if President Hassan Rouhani fails to provide sufficient concessions in the P5+1 talks that will address Iran's nuclear program scheduled for mid-October. 

Last year, Mahmoud Bahmani, Seif’s predecessor, persuaded IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde to call for the lifting of the US government’s sanctions against the Central Bank of Iran and to question further restrictions on Iran’s oil exports, warning that they could harm the global economy.

Seif will probably seek to elicit a similar response in his meetings with Lagarde, IMF Middle East and Central Asia Department Director Masood Ahmed, and “senior central bank officials of various countries.”

Seif’s visit also comes amidst reports of rapid depletion of Iran’s foreign currency reserve. Tehran's cash stockpile has reportedly fallen from $100 billion in 2011 to $80 billion in mid-2013, and according to a new FDD/Roubini Global Economics report, the Iranian government has unrestricted access to only $20 billion of those funds. CBI’s gold reserves are also believed to be down. On September 23, Donya-ye Eqtesad reported that Iran’s gold reserves are estimated to be 108 metric tons, a steep drop from previous claims by the regime that it had 500 tons in reserve.

While Seif's visit may help to reinforce Iranian president Hassan Rouhani's recent charm offensive at the United Nations, he is not likely to succeed in securing sanctions relief for Iran. Indeed, the World Bank and the IMF can’t deliver sanctions relief. Only the United States can.

Seif will leave Washington having learned that the Islamic Republic must earn sanctions relief through its actions. With the Central Bank's coffers running low, time is not on Seif's side.

Ali Alfoneh is a Senior Fellow at Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, where Toby Dershowitz is Vice President of Government Relations and Strategy.


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