A set of documents recently acquired by Iranian dissidents reveals the Iranian regime’s efforts to establish an international club with the aim of neutralizing international sanctions. These leaked files demonstrate that Tehran has been reaching out to other countries that have faced global condemnation in an attempt to form strategic partnerships that provide impunity to regimes that undermine world peace and disregard human rights.
The documents, published on Telegram by the group “GhyamSarnegouni”, clearly indicate that Western governments’ attempts to engage in negotiations with this regime only serve to play into their hands. Tehran has shown neither the willingness nor the capacity to change its domestic and foreign policies. Instead, it seeks to forge alliances that disrupt the global order for the worse.
The letters and their translation follow:
Islamic Republic of Iran
Office of the President
Vice President Office
Deputy for International and Regional Cooperation
Classification: Highly Confidential
Dr. Safari, Honorable Deputy Minister of Economic Diplomacy of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Mr. Engineer Peyman Pak, Honorable Deputy Minister and Head of the Iran Trade Development Organization
Dr. Fekri, Honorable Deputy Minister and Head of the Organization for Investment and Economic and Technical Assistance of Iran
Dr. Abolhasani, Honorable Vice President of the Central Bank of the Islamic Republic of Iran
Dr. Falahatian, Honorable Deputy Minister for Planning of the Oil Ministry
Dr. Bavand, Honorable Assistant to the Minister for Oil and Gas Sales, and Oversight of the Nikoo Company
Greetings and respect,
Please find attached a proposal for activating the “Club of Sanctioned Countries,” which includes countries like Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, Syria, Venezuela, Cuba, North Korea, Sudan, Congo, Lebanon, Somalia, Zimbabwe, Afghanistan, Libya, Mali, Nicaragua, as well as certain companies and banks in China and other countries. The purpose of this proposal is to establish an alternative pathway that bypasses sanctions, promotes self-sufficiency, and mitigates the impact of these sanctions.
This proposal is being submitted in accordance with the order of the esteemed Vice President, who has instructed us to take necessary action. I kindly request your guidance to thoroughly examine the various aspects of the subject, explore potential methods and strategies, and provide the results to this organization for the Vice President’s information.
Furthermore, I would like to inform you that a meeting will be scheduled in the near future at the deputy’s office, with the participation of relevant bodies. Detailed information will be shared once necessary coordination is complete.
Hasan Kazemi Ghomi
Mr. Mohammadkhani, Honorable Chief of Staff of the Vice President’s Office, for your information.
Dr. Zahedi Vafa, Honorable Deputy for Economic and Infrastructural Coordination and Supervision of the First Deputy, for your information
Dr. Vatankhah Moghadam, Honorable Secretary of the Coordination Council for International Relations Development of the Vice President, for your information.
29 – 4 – 2023
Summary of the Management Process on the External Negotiations “Club of the Sanctioned Countries”
Dr. Mokhber, the Honorable Vice President
The Club of the Sanctioned Countries, which comprises countries subject to sanctions or those opposing them, is an entirely Iranian initiative that was initially proposed in 1983. Given the significant sanctions imposed on Russia and China, there emerged a favorable global opportunity to establish an international framework aimed at mitigating the impact of sanctions.
Therefore, following the explicit directive from the esteemed Supreme Leader in June 2019, the Strategic Council of the Club of Sanctioned Countries was established. This council consists of various individuals and organizations and is led by Mr. Manouchehr Mottaki. Its primary objective is to foster persuasion and consensus-building both domestically and internationally.
Following extensive internal discussions involving state officials, and obtaining the necessary approvals from the President, Secretary of the Supreme National Security Council, and Minister of Foreign Affairs Mr. Amir-Abdollahian, external negotiations at the ambassador level have commenced, as outlined in the development document of the 13th administration.
In October 2022, ambassadors from six countries (China, Belarus, Syria, Venezuela, and Cuba) participated in sessions held at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. These sessions included the presence of a delegation from the Strategic Council, led by Mr. Mottaki. The ambassadors were invited and briefed as members of the founding body of a global anti-sanction structure.
During the briefing sessions, emphasis was placed on the economic focus of the Club of Sanctioned Countries. The creation of a market consisting of 2 billion people, transacting in a currency other than the dollar, would ensure the production prosperity of sanctioned countries. Establishing this market is a crucial missing component in Iran’s economy, and it represents one of the primary objectives of the Club of Sanctioned Countries.
Following the initial agreement of the founding countries, the name “Club of Sanctioned Countries” was changed to ASIU, which stands for “Anti-Sanctions International Union,” based on the opinion of the Minister of Foreign Affairs and logical considerations.
In light of the unprecedented positive response received from the ambassadors in the preliminary session regarding Iran’s proposal and initiative to neutralize sanctions, an official-media session will soon be organized at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. This session will include the presence of ambassadors from the six countries. Iran, as the innovator and creator of this global movement, will be introduced as the “Temporary Secretariat of the International Anti-Sanctions Union.” Once the ambassadors of the founding body provide their approval, the official process of initiating the formation of this anti-sanctions international union will commence.
May we be guided to success by the grace of God.
Alireza Forqani – Secretary of the Strategic Council of the Club of Sanctioned Countries
In the Name of God,
For your information,
Subject: The Necessity of Activating the Club of the Sanctioned Countries
- Recognizing the enemy’s intention to continue imposing economic sanctions and the need for a long-term strategy to counter and navigate these sanctions.
- Noting the increasing use of Western economic sanctions against various independent countries, such as Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, Syria, Venezuela, Cuba, North Korea, Congo, Lebanon, Somalia, Zimbabwe, Afghanistan, Libya, Mali, Nicaragua, and certain companies and banks in China and other nations.
Global trends and East-West conflicts have made sanctions no longer exclusive to Iran. Therefore, it is crucial for countries under US sanctions to foster economic relationships among themselves, enabling them to meet a significant portion of their needs and mitigate the impact of sanctions.
This approach, referred to as the “Club of the Sanctioned Countries,” offers an alternative path to bypass sanctions, distinct from self-sufficiency and neutralization strategies. An example of this approach has been successfully implemented in oil and gas exports to Venezuela. However, there are still untapped opportunities within this strategy. For instance, Iranian-sanctioned banks have yet to establish correspondent banking relationships with sanctioned banks in Venezuela, Syria, Russia, and Lebanon using the parallel SWIFT system (SAM or SPFS).
- The inclusion of the Club of the Sanctioned Countries should be made a working agenda item within the Countering Sanction Headquarters.
- The head of the headquarters should mandate the Central Bank and all key entities to develop a plan for implementing this strategy.
- Kazemi Ghomi, the Deputy for International Affairs, should be appointed as the project lead responsible for advancing this initiative.
- The Deputy for International Affairs should identify the economic opportunities among the countries under sanctions through collaborative sessions and prepare a comprehensive program with the involvement of relevant entities. This program should be presented to the Anti-Sanction Headquarters for approval and subsequent implementation.