The US State Department announced the lifting of sanctions against three companies that were sanctioned in May 2011 for their roles in a September 2010 deal that provided an $8.65 million dollar tanker to the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines (IRISL) in violation of the Iran Sanctions Act.

In 2011, the U.S. removed the Israeli holding company the Ofer Brother's Group from its sanctions blacklist on this same tanker deal with IRISL.

According to the State Department press statement, the companies, Tanker Pacific Management, Société Anonyme Monégasque D’Administration Maritime Et Aérienne, and Allvale Maritime Inc., "have taken significant steps to ensure their operations are in compliance with US sanctions law and policy, and have provided reliable assurances that they will not knowingly engage in such sanctionable activity in the future." 

The State Department said IRISL was an entity that has been designated by the United States and the European Union for its role in supporting Iran's proliferation activities. 

The statement claimed sanctions were "essential to changing the Iranian regime’s calculus on its nuclear program and have had a powerful impact on Iran’s economy." It further claimed that the changed behavior of the previously sanctioned companies demonstrated "the success that sanctions can have at deterring irresponsible behavior."

However, a new study casted doubt on the State Department's assertion that sanctions have had a powerful impact on the Islamic Republic.

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The study – written by Patrick Clawson, the director of research at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, and titled “Is Iran Moving Beyond Oil?” – stated that Iran’s economy is doing well by adapting to the Western sanctions, putting less emphasis on its oil exports and diversifying them into other sectors. Therefore, it hints that, without any other measures, sanctions will not be enough to stop Iran as too many countries are unwilling to make them significantly stronger.

World powers and Iran failed again to ease their decade-old dispute over Tehran's disputed nuclear program in talks that ended at the beginning of April in Almaty, prolonging a stand-off that risks spiraling into a new Middle East war.

Iran declined to accept or reject an offer of modest relief from economic sanctions in Almaty in exchange for curbing its most sensitive nuclear activity.

Ariel Ben Solomon and Reuters contributed to this report.

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