Steel Sanctions Have Iran Scrambling to Import Coal

Coal Trade Booming With Syria, Lebanon Used as Intermediaries

Keeping Iran’s economy even sort-of running is a growing challenge, with sanctions covering more and more things and leaving Iran struggling to be self-sufficient in things they used to be able to import.

But that self-sufficiency means importing more raw materials to produce sanctioned goods. The ban on steel imports to Iran, for instance, have them buying massive amounts of coal from the Ukraine to make their own steel.

But then there are banking sanctions and shipping sanctions to contend with. Ukrainian coal exporters discussing the situation say that they have to work indirectly, through Syrian and Lebanese businesses, to take advantage of the $25 million monthly coal market.

“It is very complicated to deal with Iran,” one source noted, and that seems to be putting it lightly, with various nations imposing confusing and ever tightening levels of sanctions on top of one another and something leaving it unclear whether any trade can take place at all. But where there’s a will there’s a way, and so long as Iranians are looking to trade they will find someone, somehow, to get the deal done.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.