The sanctions caused total carpet exports to plummet by 30 per cent. AFP PHOTO / ATTA KENARE
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Like many of the thousands of visitors who packed into a Persian carpet exhibition in Tehran, Mohammad could not afford to buy the exquisite rugs – he simply wanted to touch the fine, hand-woven craftsmanship. Mohammad knows his carpets: the 56-year-old spent two decades exporting Iran's most sought after product to America. But he was forced out of business in 2010 after US sanctions on Iran were expanded to include Persian rugs, pistachio nuts and caviar.The US was Iran's big market for Persian rugs, and the sanctions caused total carpet exports to plummet by 30 per cent – the embargo meant no American could buy, sell or import Persian rugs, even if purchased outside the Islamic republic.Persian carpet exports were up 39 per cent in the four months to July 21 with American devotees of Iranian artistry the main buyers. The company has sold $250,000 worth of carpets to the US since January, but that compares with its annual global exports of $8m.Iranians believe their carpets are still unrivalled.
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