Tuesday, June 4, 2013
Answer: Yes, there have been sanctions going back to 1979, but unlike the stupidity that is the US policy prohibiting Americans from visiting Cuba, these sanctions do not preclude travel to Iran. There are travel warnings galore, but no actual prohibition exists, so practically speaking, you are not risking any jail time. For the tourist, the most obvious effect of the sanctions is the money problem. As in the "What do you mean my ATM card won't work?! How am I going to get money?" problem.
The only solution I found was to do something I normally try to avoid doing, carry dollars and lots of them. Normally, I will wait until I get to wherever I am going and take out small amounts of the local currency, minimizing my risk in the event that I unexpectedly become separated from my wallet, but due to the fact that western banks are prohibited from doing business in Iran, this was not an option. For all the concern that people expressed about my visiting Iran, one of my biggest worries was how I was going to manage for 12 in London with a purseful of cash just waiting to be snatched.