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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 reimposition of extraterritorial sanctions in 2018 entails severe penalties for all US and non-US entities engaging in transactions involving Iran's financial, energy, petrochemical, and automotive sectors. Iran announced on 5 January its abandonment of all restrictions on nuclear enrichment, raising the risk of the nuclear agreement's outright collapse. There is an elevated likelihood of US strikes on military targets, triggered by Iran-orchestrated attacks killing US personnel. The US would likely still opt for in-theatre responses to Iran-orchestrated attacks on its assets and personnel, such as in the assassination, via a US drone strike, of Qods Force Commander Qassem Soleimani in Iraq. However, facing US strikes on its territory, Iran would likely retaliate by striking commercial shipping and energy assets in the Gulf. Even without war, there are high risks of accidental shootdown by Iranian surface-to-air missiles for all aircraft over Iran and the Gulf. The violent protests triggered by the 15 November 2019 subsidy cuts were controlled through a combination of a brutal police response and cash handouts. They revealed deep popular frustration with the Islamic Republic, set to be exacerbated by a poor government response to the COVID-19 virus outbreak.Reformist voter apathy allowed hardline conservatives to capture parliamentary control in the 21 February legislative election. The hard-line dominance in the succession process for the next Supreme Leader mitigates instability risks when Ayatollah Ali Khamenei dies. Iran's economy is under severe pressure, with oil export arrivals at less than 300,000 barrels per day (bpd) in February 2020, down from above an average 1.2 million bpd in the first quarter of 2019. GDP will probably contract by 6.5% in fiscal year 2019 and 1% in 2020, with a highly likely further downward revision due to Iran's COVID-19 outbreak. Inflation – at more than 35% y/y – is expected to continue.
Last update: March 11, 2020

Operational Outlook

US withdrawal from the nuclear agreement and the reimposition of US sanctions in late 2018 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. Preferential treatment of energy workers reduces the risk of sustained disruption in the energy sector, which is the government's largest revenue source, or electricity production.

Last update: March 13, 2020

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, including in Tehran.

Last update: March 17, 2020

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: December 13, 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, particularly in the aftermath of the US assassination of Iran's Qods Force commander Qassem Soleimani. Although Iran wants to avoid direct conflict with the US and its allies, it will feel compelled to retaliate, at least through its regional proxies, especially as its leadership likely believes that the Islamic Republic would survive a limited war. Iran would seek to deny the US a short, localised war and to make any military confrontation regional.

Last update: March 17, 2020

Social Stability

High

Economically driven anti-government protests by Iran's low-income communities and working class are likely to recur sporadically, despite the government's successful suppression of the November 2019 violent protests. Although these have increasingly challenged the Islamic Republic outright, they are unlikely to jeopardise the Islamic Republic's hold on power, given the latter's willingness to use lethal force. However, even larger protests with far higher casualties would risk alienating the hard-line conservatives' core support base, encouraging defections within the security apparatus, and discrediting the IRGC and clerical leadership.

Last update: March 17, 2020

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