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Iran to sue US for blocking hand-woven carpet imports

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
The file photo shows hand-woven Iranian carpets.

The head of Iran National Carpet Center (INCC) says it will file a lawsuit with international tribunals against fresh sanctions imposed by the US on the imports of hand-woven Iranian rugs into the country.

"Hand-woven Iranian carpet belongs to the Iranian nation," Fereshteh Dastpak said on Saturday, adding, "US President [Donald Trump] has wrongly sanctioned the art-industry, which is a symbol of culture and intellectual property of the Iranian people."

The remarks came after the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) of the US Treasury Department revoked the license for the imports of Iranian-origin carpets and foodstuffs, including pistachios and caviar.

The move came in line with Trump's increasingly hostile approach toward Iran a few months after he withdrew Washington from the 2015 multilateral nuclear deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

"According to international protocols, what belongs to a nation could not be sanctioned," Dastpak said.

The INCC, she said, hopes that it could remove hand-woven Iranian rugs from the US sanctions list through the international protocols and conventions of which the center is a member.

Removing hand-woven carpets from the US sanctions list would be followed up by the INCC as well as other relevant unions, she pointed out.

The US was the biggest buyer of Iranian carpets and imported hand-woven rugs worth $80 million annually before the imposition of sanctions.

Iran resumed carpet exports to the US after the lifting of anti-Iran bans under the JCPOA.

Latest statistics released by the Islamic Republic of Iran Customs Administration show that some 5,400 tonnes of hand-woven carpets worth $424 million were exported in the last fiscal year, which ended on March 20, 2018, registering an increase of over 18 percent in value compared to the previous year.

The US withdrawal from the JCPOA entailed not only the re-imposition of sanctions on Iran but also the so-called secondary sanctions on third countries. Some of those sanctions will take effect after a 90-day wind-down period ending on August 6, and the rest after a 180-day wind-down period ending on November 4.

Earlier this month, Iran lodged a complaint with the International Court of Justice (ICJ) over the United States' "unlawful" move to re-impose "unilateral" sanctions against Tehran.

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