Under the sanctions regime imposed on Iran prior to the 2015 nuclear deal, Iranian carpet exports to the US fell to zero. File photo: Behrouz Mehri / AFP
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Iran will file a lawsuit against the United States following a decision to put the country’s iconic, hand-woven Persian rugs on the list of new sanctions targeting Iran’s economy, the head of the Iran National Carpet Center said on Saturday.
“Hand-made carpets belong to the Iranian nation and US President Donald Trump has made a mistake to sanction this Iranian art which is a symbol of culture and intellectual property of the Iranian people,” Fereshteh Dastpak told the Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA).
Handmade carpets are one of Iran’s most iconic industries. Thousands of skilled weavers rely on the carpet industry to earn a living.
Last month the US Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) cancelled the license for importing rugs, pistachios, and caviar from Iran as part of Washington’s efforts to squeeze the Iranian economy.
According to the Iranian National Carpet Center, carpet exports generated $336 million between March 2017 and January 2018. A third of these exports went to the US. Iran exported more than $97 million worth of handmade carpets to the US last year alone.
In May this year, US President Donald Trump withdrew from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, announcing a raft of new sanctions to be imposed on Iran in the coming months. Under the sanctions regime imposed on Iran prior to the 2015 deal, Iranian carpet exports to the US fell to zero.
Iran is the biggest carpet exporter in the world, selling to 80 countries. In the US, Persian rugs are sold for between $10,000 for a smaller rug and $100,000 or even twice as much for a fine, large rug, according to the Iran National Carpet Center.