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Country Reports

Iran Country Report

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Risk Level

Low
Moderate
Elevated
High
Very High
Severe
Extreme

Overview

Executive Summary

The unilateral US withdrawal from the Iranian nuclear agreement and re-imposition of US extraterritorial sanctions in 2018 entail severe penalties for all US and non-US entities engaging in transactions involving Iran's financial, energy, petrochemical, and automotive sectors. Iran will probably stay in the nuclear deal but will incrementally violate it, raising the risk of its outright collapse.Iranian oil exports fell below 300,000 bpd in June 2019, down from above 1 million bpd in March, with China and India partly complying with the cessation of US sanction waivers for Iranian oil exports. This will further intensify domestic unrest, already high by historical standards. Using lethal force against mass protests by ethnic Persian rural and urban poor would risk alienating the Islamic Republic’s natural support base.Short of deliberate targeting of US military personnel or civilians in incidents overtly attributable to Iran, the US is likely to avoid military engagement, focusing instead on forcing Iran back to negotiations through economic pressure. However, should Iran cross this red line, even if through miscalculation, the US would likely conduct selective strikes on Iranian military targets. Meanwhile Iran's provocative actions on commercial shipping in the Gulf are likely to continue, risking an unintended escalation. Reformist voter apathy increases the likelihood of hard-line conservatives capturing parliamentary control and gaining the presidency in the 2020 and 2021 elections, respectively. Hard-line conservative dominance in the succession process mitigates instability risks when Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei dies. Structural economic deficiencies include an inefficient public sector, weak banking and financial sector, corruption, and high unemployment. Iran's economy is under severe pressure, and GDP will probably contract by 6.5% in fiscal year 2019 and 1% in 2020. Growing inflation – more than 35% y/y since late 2018 – alongside loss of confidence in economic policy will weigh heavily on private consumption and fixed investment, halting the FDI growth achieved in 2016–17.
Last update: August 6, 2019

Operational Outlook

US withdrawal from the nuclear agreement and the reimposition of US sanctions, including on Iran's automotive sector starting on 7 August 2018 and shipping and insurance services starting on 5 November, significantly increased the regulatory burden for foreign entities doing business with Iran. The sanctions have also disrupted Iran's trade infrastructure and company operations across the supply chain. This increases the likelihood of more frequent, but scattered and peaceful, labour protests against wage arrears, particularly in the manufacturing and industrial sectors, including the strategic automotive sector.

Last update: May 1, 2019

Terrorism

High

Iran's several separatist militant groups do not present a credible threat to state authority or stand to substantially undermine security forces in the regions where they operate; namely, the border provinces of Kermanshah, Khuzestan, Kurdistan, Sistan-Baluchistan, and West Azerbaijan. However, there is an elevated risk of low-capability attacks targeting security, government, and less-secure energy assets in these provinces, not least in a bid to secure external support, principally from Saudi Arabia. External assistance would be unlikely to substantially improve these groups' overall capabilities. Jihadist groups such as the Islamic State have at least a rudimentary in-country support network and are capable of one-off attacks on soft targets.

Last update: June 21, 2019

Crime

Although petty crime is common in urban areas, particularly targeted at tourists, it is not a serious problem. More serious crimes, particularly involving organised groups, are primarily associated with illicit drug trafficking and money laundering, given Iran's geographic location connecting Afghanistan, a major opium producer, to Turkey and then Europe. Both the Law Enforcement Forces (LEF), operating under the Ministry of Interior, and the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) are responsible for fighting organised crime, although the extent of their co-operation is unclear. Capital punishment for serious crimes is common.

Last update: February 16, 2019

War Risks

The US policy of confronting Iran to curtail its nuclear and ballistic missile programmes and forcing it to retract support for regional proxies has increased the likelihood of war, either through Iranian miscalculation of the US threshold for military action or a decision by the United States to take direct military action against Iran or Iranian interests abroad. The Iranian government would probably only opt for war if it were under imminent existential threat and would otherwise probably seek to avoid direct conflict. Iran would seek to deny the US a short localised war and to make any military confrontation regional.

Last update: May 11, 2019

Social Stability

High

Localised and economically driven anti-government protests by Iran's low-income communities and working class are likely to recur. These are unlikely to become co-ordinated or large-scale in major urban areas, undermining their impact. However, the state is unlikely to address grievances by this constituency and cannot rely on a heavy-handed response; the latter would risk alienating hardliners' core support base, encouraging defections within the security apparatus, and discrediting the IRGC/clerical leadership. Meanwhile, although hardliners' efforts to restrict social freedoms increase urban youth dissatisfaction, security forces will probably prevent co-ordinated or widespread protests.

Last update: June 22, 2019

Health Risk

Very high

Vaccinations required to enter the country

A yellow fever vaccination certificate is required for travellers over 9 months of age arriving from countries with risk of yellow fever transmission and for travellers having transited more than 12 hours through an airport of a country with risk of yellow fever transmission. 

Routine Vaccinations

Hepatitis A: A vaccine is available for anyone over one year of age. The vaccine may not be effective for certain people, e.g. those born before 1945 and who lived as a child in a developing country and/or have a past history of jaundice (icterus). These people can instead get a shot of immune globulin (IG) to boost their immunity against the disease.

Hepatitis B: A vaccine is available for children at least two months old.

Diphtheria-Tetanus-Polio: A booster shot should be administered if necessary (once every ten years).

Other Vaccinations

Typhoid Fever: If your travels take you to regions with poor sanitary conditions (for children two years old and up).

Rabies: For prolonged stays in an isolated region (for children from when they can walk).

Malaria: Recommended preventive medication - for a trip to the south or southeast of the country, mefloquine (sometimes marketed as Lariam) or doxycycline (sometimes marketed as Vibramycin); for everywhere else, chloroquine (sometimes marketed as Nivaquine).

For Children: All standard childhood immunizations should be up-to-date. In the case of a long stay, the BCG vaccine is recommended for children over one month and the MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) vaccine for children over nine months.

Last update: April 5, 2019

Natural Risks

Severe

Iran is situated in a very active seismic zone. Earthquakes of varying magnitudes and severity occur regularly. On November 12, 2017, a 7.3-magnitude earthquake struck the border region separating northern Iraq and western Iran, leaving over 530 people dead and another 7460 injured in Iran. Many other quakes were reported in 2017 including a 6.0 magnitude earthquake (Kerman province) on December 1 that left 51 injured.

Expatriates and visitors should familiarize themselves with the proper safety procedures to follow in the event of an earthquake. Before an earthquake occurs, identify places in your home, school, or place of work that would provide adequate shelter (e.g., preferably under a sturdy piece of furniture or against an interior wall - doorways do not offer good protection from falling objects). Secure items that could be hazardous if they fell (mirrors, bookshelves, etc.). Maintain a stock of basic necessities (water, medication, etc.) and store important documents in one place. Where possible, ensure that your building is earthquake resistant.

In the event of an earthquake, "drop, cover, and hold" (drop to the ground, cover your head and neck with your arms, if a safer place is close by then crawl to it, and hold on). Stay where you are until the shaking stops; do not run outside. More information can be found at this website.

Last update: April 5, 2019

Transportation

Elevated

Roads are in generally good condition; nevertheless, Iran has a high rate of road accidents due to reckless driving. The number of accidents is reportedly rising. In case of a road accident, wait for the police to arrive at the scene of the accident.

Foreign travel within Iran is strictly controlled by the authorities, and subject to authorization. Roadblocks and checkpoints are common. Avoid driving at night. It is advised to rent a car with a driver.

The railway network is incomplete and slow; however, trains from Tehran serve the cities of Mashhad, Bandar Abbas, and Tabriz.

The progressive lifting of international sanctions has allowed several Iranian airlines to be recognized as meeting international aerial safety standards. IranAir, the main Iranian public airline, has been removed from the European Union's blacklist of international airlines that are forbidden to fly in European airspace. Domestic flights serve major cities all over the country.

Many areas of the Caspian Sea and Persian Gulf are highly politically sensitive. The waters around the islands of Abu Musa and the Tunbs in the southern Persian Gulf are particularly tense, and are militarized.

Last update: April 5, 2019

Practical Information

Climate

Iran has a continental climate with significant temperature variations between seasons. In the majority of the country, a large part of the annual rainfall comes in the winter and spring months. Summers are hot and winters are humid and often very cold. Winters along the coast are mild and summers are hot and humid. The plateau regions are much cooler in the winter, sometimes very cold and summers there are less humid than in the rest of the country. Dry and dusty winds can sometimes be unpleasant (eye irritations, etc.).

Useful Numbers

Country Code: 98
Police: 110
Fire Dept.: 125
Ambulance: 115

Electricity

Voltage: 230 V ~ 50 Hz

Outlets:

Last update: April 5, 2019