No details given of how Iran will secure bonds as foreign investment suspended


In a statement betraying concern and uncertainty rather than concrete plans, a senior official has said Iran will raise $7 billion domestically to fund key oil projects.

Ali Hosseini, the Managing Director of the Iran Energy Exchange, tried to counter the squeeze on Tehran from expanding sanctions after Donald Trump’s May 9 withdrawal of the US from the July 2015 nuclear deal. He said the Exchange would raise 300 trillion Rials through “project funds” and Islamic bonds.

Hosseini did not give further details, but last week the head of the Securities and Exchange Organization said bonds, covering the departure of international firms from Total to Russia’s Lukoil, “will help all Iranians to participate in investment in oil projects”. Ali Kardor, the managing director of the National Iranian Oil Company has also declared a “project fund” to provide resources for investment of more than $6.3 billion.

But Hosseini said the goal had already been reduced from $10 billion because of “currency fluctuations”, and the historic low of the Rial — which has lost more than 40% of its value against the US dollar since January — has further shrunk the ambition. At the open-market rate of more than 70,000:1 v. the dollar, 300 trillion Rials is now worth less than $4.3 billion.

The official said “a special portfolio of investment tools” would need to include foreign investments as well as domestic investments and IRENEX resources. He did not identify, in the face of the US sanctions which threaten to punish any company dealing with Iran from November, from where the foreign investment would come.

Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh has said that Iran needs $20 billion per year in investment to maintain and develop its fields for planned production and exports.

Iran’s oil exports fell 16.6% in the first two weeks of June, to just over 2.1 million barrels per day, as shippers and tankers begin a pullback from business with Tehran.

Gonabadi Dervish Executed

Mohammad Salas Babajani, a Gonabadi dervish, was executed early Monday.

Salas Babajani was accused of killing three police officers by running them over in a bus during clashes between security forces and dervishes in February 2018, outside the home of Noor Ali Tabandeh, the leader of the Sufi order.

Dervishes had surrounded the 90-year-old Tabandeh’s home, fearing he would be detained or put under house arrest. A video showed a white bus moving toward the police and running some of them down.

Officials had said they had hoped Salas Babajani would be convicted and put to death before the start of the Iranian New Year on March 21. The dervish was sentenced on March 19, but the verdict was only announced on April 4.

Sufi members and civil society activists believe Babajani’s “confession”, broadcast on State media the day after his arrest, was coerced. On May 24, an audio file was released in which Salas Babajani denied the charges:

There were two buses. I was not the driver of the bus that killed people. I am not a murderer. I cannot even hurt a fly. All of this has been stage-managed by the police…It was another bus that was used to murder people.

He said he had confesseda fter being beaten, fearing he would be killed.

On Sunday, Amnesty International called on Iranian authorities to annul the death sentence and hold a retrial meeting with international standards and without recourse to capital punishment.

Authorities rejected the appeal of Salas Babjani’s lawyer Zeinab Taheri, based on witnesses saying that the driver of the bus was a young man much younger than her 50-year-old client.