Iran’s oil profits down 20 percent, GAO finds

The United States has led an international effort to turn the screws on Iran over its alleged nuclear program. President Obama has signed eight executive orders aimed at cutting the country’s cash flow, and the Justice Department has sought to bring cases against banks that violate the rules, the report says. Congress has also passed legislation to toughen the sanctions.

Iran’s economy has “consistently underperformed” surrounding countries in various “key economic indicators” since 2010, the GAO found. In addition to the falling oil revenues – the Middle Eastern country’s main economic driver – economic growth continues to fall while inflation rises.

GAO reports that Iran is trying to “adapt” to the economic sanctions by “using alternative payment mechanisms” that escape detection. But, so far, those means “have not fully offset Iran’s reduced oil exports.”

Outside of U.S. sanctions, the report says that “many foreign banks are unwilling to process transactions for Iranian businesses and citizens,” even though sanctions may not apply to the transactions.

In 2012, the European Union cut off Iranian banks from its financial messaging service, Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication, which had processed more than two million financial messages for 29 Iranian financial institutions the year before.