April 5, 2022 | The Wall Street Journal

Iran’s Master Class in Evading Sanctions

The ‘central banker of terrorism’ could coach Russia on how to diminish pressure from the West over the Ukraine war.
April 5, 2022 | The Wall Street Journal

Iran’s Master Class in Evading Sanctions

The ‘central banker of terrorism’ could coach Russia on how to diminish pressure from the West over the Ukraine war.

Excerpt

The most important resource Tehran can share with Moscow is expertise in evading Western sanctions. Iran’s clerical regime reportedly is talking with the Kremlin about working together to get around the restrictions they both face. If the U.S. and its allies want to limit this sort of cooperation, they should learn from the mistakes they made while employing sanctions to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.

Iran’s sanctions-evasion techniques are sophisticated and sweeping. The Journal reported last month that Tehran has developed a “clandestine banking and finance system to handle tens of billions of dollars in annual trade banned under U.S.-led sanctions.”

Tehran could teach Moscow how to replicate this illicit financial architecture, or the clerical regime could serve as the Kremlin’s broker, taking a cut of the covert trade it facilitates on Russia’s behalf. The combination of Russian and Iranian expertise in illicit financial activities could produce the world’s most sophisticated and expansive sanctions-evasion network. If Western sanctions lose their bite, the pressure on Moscow to end its invasion of Ukraine and other threats would diminish.

Mr. Dubowitz is chief executive of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. Mr. Zweig, a senior fellow at FDD, has served in senior positions at the State Department and the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Follow them on Twitter @mdubowitz and @MatthewZweig1. FDD is a Washington, DC-based, nonpartisan research institute focusing on national security and foreign policy.

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Issues:

Iran Iran Global Threat Network Iran Nuclear Iran Politics and Economy Iran Sanctions Russia Sanctions and Illicit Finance