From Chewing Gum to Tanks, Iran Orders Ban on 227 US Products

Patrick Goodenough | December 15, 2015 | 4:17am EST
Font Size

( – On the eve of an International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) vote expected to pave the way for Iran sanctions relief and a rush of business deals, the regime has ordered a ban on the import of more than 200 American products, ranging from chewing gum to tanks.

Iranian media reported Monday that the Trade Promotion Organization (TPO) of Iran sent a list of 227 prohibited goods to provincial authorities with instructions to enforce the ban.

American-made cigarettes and appliances are also listed, the reports said. A request for the full list has yet to bring a response from the TPO.

Since the announcement last July of an international agreement on Iran’s nuclear programs, supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has increasingly framed the continuing U.S. threat against his country in the language of a culture war, suggesting that a flood of U.S. influence would undermine Islamic and Iranian values.

In a speech in August, he cautioned against “U.S. efforts to exploit the outcome of the nuclear talks to boost its economic, political and cultural infiltration into Iran.”

Last month Khamenei warned Basij militiamen in a speech about an enemy strategy of infiltration that uses money and “sexual allure” in a bid to change beliefs and lifestyles.

By gradually changing the opinions of Iranians until they “resemble the enemy’s views,” he said, “foreigners will realize their objectives without being identified and being imperiled.”

In an October letter to President Hasan Rouhani giving his verdict on the nuclear deal, Khamenei advised the president to be careful to avoid an influx of American imports, once sanctions are lifted.

“You should also watch out so that unbridled imports would not follow the lifting of sanctions, and particularly importing any consumer materials from the U.S. must be seriously avoided,” he wrote.

It’s not clear impact the ayatollah’s message has had at the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance, whose spokesman was asked Monday about the U.S. film industry’s interest in working in the country, and replied that the ministry was “generally welcoming.”

The executive vice president of 20th Century Fox, Paul Higginson, told the film industry publication Screen earlier that Iran was “a very important potential market of 80 million people.”

“As soon as we’re able to engage with the market, we will,” Higginson said. “Will they let us in? That’s for them to decide what they want to do. We’re available. We want to be involved in that market and we want to communicate.”

On Tuesday, the IAEA’s board of governors is expected to vote in favor of closing an investigation into the so-called possible military dimensions (PMDs) of Tehran’s nuclear activities.

The expected move comes despite the investigation having concluded that the Iranians carried out a coordinated program relevant to development of a nuclear bomb until 2003, and then further nuclear weapons-related activity after that date, until at least 2009. Iran continues to deny any intention of developing nuclear capability.

Closure of the PMD file will cross one of the last hurdles to implementation of the nuclear agreement, with sanctions easing expected to begin early next year.

mrc merch