The Iran nuclear deal has been in effect for nearly six months now. Amid an internal power struggle, Iran’s hardliners are seeking both to undermine international business dealings between the country’s so-called moderates and are urging President Hassan Rouhani to scrap the historic agreement altogether.
“Hardliners have lost the benefits that sanctions brought them after years of selling crude and purchasing second-hand aeroplanes at double and triple prices and hefty commissions,” an analyst who is aligned with Iran’s reformists said in an interview with the Financial Times earlier this year.
Iran’s civil society has long suffered under sanctions while the regime has itself conversely benefited from them. At least 70 percent of Iranians live below the poverty line.
In spite of the release of over $100 billion of frozen Iranian assets, Iran continues to insist that the United States is making it difficult for them to do business abroad.
The Iranian regime’s concern reportedly stems from a 2012 U.S. law that Newsweek reported bars Iran from using the U.S. financial system and the American dollar, even indirectly. This law is intended to punish the regime for being state-sponsors of terrorism, engaging in human rights abuses and for their ballistic missile program. The Obama administration has reportedly insisted that as long as institutions are not dealing with sanctioned Iranian groups, they will be unaffected by the 2012 law.
Iran contends that many European and foreign nations, seeking to invest in and work with Iran, are afraid they will be fined large amounts of money if these investments are found to go to businesses that benefit the military wing of the Iranian regime, the Guardians of the Revolution known as the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).
However, an article published in the Wall Street Journal this week suggests the United States and Europe are urging business investments in Iran. “The U.S. and its European partners made a fresh appeal Thursday for European banks and businesses to invest in Iran, saying they would do more to encourage legitimate business in the country now that most sanctions are gone,” the Journal wrote.
The move has raised some eyebrows in American political and foreign policy circles:
It has been suggested that the infighting between Iran’s hardliners and moderates could result in the agreement unraveling.
Although Secretary of State John Kerry suggests it is unlikely that the deal that is largely seen as President Obama’s legacy-marker will be scrapped by the next administration, it is still possible for the Islamic Republic to exit the agreement. And Iran’s hardliners, who were against the deal from the get-go, are still urging the nation’s so-called moderate President Hassan Rouhani to scrap the JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action) altogether.
The JCPOA is seen as being deeply flawed by Democrats and Republicans alike and has been the subject of much contention among lawmakers who are seeking to impose more sanctions on the Islamic Republic for their illegal ballistic missile launches in the past few months.
Breitbart News reported in March that mere “hours after the Iranian regime breached United Nations Security Council treaties by test-firing ballistic missiles, the nation’s leadership has again threatened to walk away from the nuclear deal they had agreed to in July of last year.”
Last month, Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei accused the U.S. of undermining its nuclear deal with Iran.
“On paper the United States allows foreign banks to deal with Iran, but in practice they create Iranophobia so no one does business with Iran,” Khamenei reportedly said. Rouhani had similarly threatened to walk away from the deal last November.
So far, the Europe-based Airbus aircraft group agreed to sell approximately $30 billion of planes to Iran this past January. And just last month, Airbus’s American rival Boeing Co. also agreed to meet to discuss potential sales of their aircraft carriers to Iran, which has one of the oldest aircraft fleets in the world.
However, Newsweek notes that lawmakers wrote a letter to Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg this month, in which they urged him “not to be complicit in the likely conversion of Boeing aircraft to IRGC warplanes.”
Follow Adelle Nazarian on Twitter @AdelleNaz.