Critics have accused the Obama administration of effectively acting as Iran’s law firm during the nuclear negotiations, but now Secretary of State John Kerry seems determined to volunteer as Iran’s marketing director.
As part of what the Wall Street Journal describes as “the Obama Administration’s moves recently to help integrate Iran into the global economic system after decades of punitive sanctions,” Kerry urged European businesses not to use the remaining U.S. sanctions on Iran as an excuse to avoid doing business with Tehran.
According to the Journal, Kerry told reporters, who were traveling with him to London for an anticorruption summit, that the United States “sometimes gets used as an excuse in this process” by business executives, who claim the American government would disapprove of Iranian deals.
“If they don’t see a good business deal, they shouldn’t say, ‘Oh, we can’t do it because of the United States.’ That’s just not fair. That’s not accurate,” said Kerry.
“Iran has a right to the benefits of the agreement they signed up to and if people, by confusion or misinterpretation or in some cases disinformation, are being misled, it’s appropriate for us to try to clarify that,” he added.
Kerry stressed that European institutions are “are absolutely free to open accounts for Iran, trade and exchange money, facilitate a legitimate business agreement, bankroll it, lend money — all those things are absolutely open,” aside from a few specific individuals and firms that remain under U.S. sanctions.
“Some specific Iranian entities, including companies associated with Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, are still off-limits under sanctions punishing Iran for other behavior,” notes the Associated Press. “And the U.S. maintains a prohibition on Iran accessing the American financial system or directly conducting transactions in U.S. dollars, fueling confusion and practical impediments given that international transactions routinely cross through the U.S. banking system.”
The Secretary of State evidently did not explain why European businessmen would be looking for phony excuses to avoid profitable business deals with the regime in Tehran.
The situation is more complicated than Kerry makes it out to be, according to the Associated Press, which reports that foreign investors are worried about Iran’s “antiquated financial system that fails to meet modern international standards,” its ongoing support for terrorism, its dismal human-rights history, and the fact that the Obama administration has been reluctant to provide written clarification of which business transactions are allowed.
The WSJ suggests two reasons for Kerry’s enthusiasm as an investment counselor for the Iranian theocracy: the Iranians have been loudly complaining that the Obama administration isn’t holding up its end of the nuclear deal, and the outcome of the U.S. presidential election could put the future of the deal in doubt.
At a minimum, presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton claims she would add more sanctions if Iran comes too close to developing nuclear weapons, while presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump has said he wants to re-negotiate the deal.