Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Legal Developments in Oman

Iran Sanctions and Iran-Oman Trade – Part I
Oman is a close neighbor and a significant trading partner of the Islamic Republic of Iran, which is located just across the Strait of Hormuz from the Sultanate. Iran accounts for approximately 4% of Oman’s exports.
As reported in the Omani press, Oman and Iran recently held the 13th round of the Omani-Iranian Joint Committee to discuss ways to strengthen their trade relationship in areas such as investment, transportation, banking, tourism, mining, oil and gas, petrochemicals, shipping and telecommunications.

However, numerous aspects of Omani-Iranian trade are likely to come under stress as a result of the sanctions that have been imposed against Iran in recent months by the international community.

Nuclear Program Prompts Sanctions

In response to Iran’s nuclear development program, which many suspect of pursuing nuclear weapons, the United Nations (“U.N.”) Security Council, the United States of America, and the European Union have all imposed sanctions relating to trade with Iran. All of these sanctions have the potential to affect Omani companies that do business, directly or indirectly, with Iran.

This month we discuss the U.N. Security Council resolution against Iran, Resolution 1929. In next month’s Client Alert, Part II of this article will discuss the sanctions that the United States and the European Union have imposed against Iran.

U.N. Security Council Resolution 1929

In recent years, the United States, many European nations, and other countries have grown increasingly alarmed at the prospect of Iran developing nuclear weapons, and have urged the larger international community to take measures to rein in Iran’s nuclear program. On June 9, 2010, the U.N. Security Council passed Resolution 1929, holding Iran in violation of its non-proliferation obligations under international law and instituting a fourth round of sanctions. Resolution 1929 was passed by the Security Council with twelve votes in favor, one abstaining, and two against.

Under Chapter VII of the U.N. Charter, Security Council resolutions finding a threat to the peace, such as Resolution 1929, are binding upon member states and require implementation of their provisions via national law. Accordingly, all U.N. member states, including Oman, are obligated to implement and enforce Resolution 1929.

Resolution 1929 institutes a number of measures targeting Iranian military and nuclear capabilities, as well as entities that provide financial or transportation services related to Iran’s military or nuclear activities. Among other measures, the resolution seeks to ban the sale of weapons and military equipment to Iran. Furthermore, all U.N. member states are prohibited from allowing Iranian investment in uranium mines, enrichment facilities and other nuclear technology. Finally, Resolution 1929 calls on U.N. member states to ban travel by, and freeze the assets of, specifically named Iranian officials and entities tied to the Iranian government, in particular those connected to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.