Pursuant to a Federal Register notice to be issued on September 28, 2010, and effective as of September 29, 2010, the US Department of the Treasury, Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), will terminate the general licenses that had previously existed in the Iranian Transactions Regulations (ITR), see 31 C.F.R. §§ 560.534 and 560.535, for the importation of certain Iranian-origin food items, carpets, and related services. This action is being taken pursuant to the restrictions recently enacted under the Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability, and Divestment Act of 2010 (CISADA), Pub. L. No 111-195 (July 1, 2010). (See our previous advisories on the final CISADA bill and the recent Iranian Financial Sanctions Regulations).

After September 28, 2010, imports into the United States of Iranian-origin foodstuffs and carpets will be prohibited, absent a specific license. Such licenses are unlikely to be granted absent special circumstances. The restriction covers all foodstuffs intended for human consumption that are classified under chapters 2-23 of the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States and carpets and other textile floor coverings as well as carpets used as wall hangings that are classified under chapter 57 or heading 9706.00.0060 of the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States.

The restriction on the importation of “Iranian-origin” foodstuffs and carpets applies not only to items that originate (e.g., are produced) in Iran, but also to items that originate outside of Iran that transit through Iran. OFAC’s amendment to the ITR states that under section 560.306 of the ITR, which defines “Iranian-origin goods or services” that “[g]oods which have entered into Iranian commerce” includes items originating outside of Iran that transit through Iran. While this interpretation of the ITR restrictions may have been apparent from the plain language of section 560.306, OFAC is making this clear in the context of the new restrictions on imports of foodstuffs and carpets into the United States.

OFAC has stated that it does not intend to eliminate the general license, set forth at 31 C.F.R. § 560.524(b), allowing the importation of certain Iranian-origin household and personal effects of persons arriving in the United States.