Iran Country Report
President Rouhani is likely to face stiffer opposition by the powerful rival hard-line conservatives and therefore enjoy less political manoeuvrability and influence in his second term. Meaningful political and economic reforms, which require agreement by rival hard-line conservatives, are unlikely. Accordingly, there is a residual increased risk of protests and riots, particularly by Iran's poor and working class. While Iran is likely to continue nuclear compliance, the US policy of testing the limits of the nuclear agreement increases the risk of the agreement collapsing. There is an elevated risk of further IRGC-initiated naval incidents involving the US and Gulf Arab navies in the Gulf, although the frequency and intensity of these incidents has declined in 2017.
Residual US primary sanctions complicating dollar-currency conversions in Iran-related transactions and Iran's deficient money-laundering control infrastructure will probably impede the country's reconnection to the global financial system. There is a high risk of US non-nuclear sanctions designations of entities affiliated with the IRGC. Labour protests are scattered and peaceful, with the majority only minimally or moderately disruptive to operations. Risk to cargo and transport from terrorism is generally low but higher in the remote mountainous areas of Sistan-Balochistan, and West Azerbaijan and Kurdistan provinces.
None of Iran's several separatist militant groups presents a credible threat to state authority or significantly undermine security forces in the regions they operate – the border provinces of Sistan-Baluchistan, Khuzestan, West Azerbaijan, Kurdistan, and Kermanshah. However, more ambitious attacks on security assets in recent months indicate intent to secure external support. This poses an elevated risk of low-capability attacks targeting security, government, and less secure energy assets in these provinces. External assistance would be unlikely to significantly improve these groups' overall capabilities. Jihadi groups like the Islamic State have at least a rudimentary in-country support network and are capable of one-off attack on soft targets.
US opposition to the JCPOA in its current form is increasingly undermining its longevity, increasing war risks to moderate. However, the US is unlikely to instigate JCPOA's collapse in the coming year. The agreement has escalated the regional proxy conflict between Iran and Saudi Arabia, but the two countries are likely to avoid a direct military confrontation, not least because of their relative conventional military weaknesses. The burden of deterring Iranian provocation and of restraining escalation by Saudi Arabia will probably largely fall to the United States. The risk of contained marine incidents between US and Iranian naval assets has abated, although one-off incidents remain likely.
There is growing risk to state stability emanating from protests by Iran's low-income and working class over economic grievances, state corruption, government "deceit" and even the clerical rule. A heavy-handed response against these protests risks alienating hardliners' core support base, encouraging defections within the security apparatus and discrediting the IRGC/clerical leadership. Meanwhile, although the hardline conservatives' ongoing efforts to tighten social freedoms increase urban youth dissatisfaction, Iran's security forces will probably prove effective in preventing co-ordinated or widespread protests. There is a moderate risk of property damage to embassies during protests outside embassies of rival countries like Saudi Arabia.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.).
Voltage: 230 V ~ 50 Hz