IAEA: Iran Not Cheating on Nuclear Deal KEVIN DRUM SEP. 8, 2016 Iran has kept to a nuclear deal it agreed with six world powers last year limiting its stockpiles of substances that could be used to make atomic weapons, a report by the U.N. nuclear agency found.
The confidential report by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) seen by Reuters did not point to any violations in Tehran’s observance of the deal which was opposed by hardliners inside Iran and by skeptics in the West. http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2016/09/iaea-iran-not-cheating-nuclear-deal
Media Trumpet Another Phony “Secret Nuclear Deal” Story , 08 September 2016 By Gareth Porter, Truthout | News Analysis Two major media outlets — Reuters and The Washington Post — pushed another Iran “secret side deal” story last week, ignoring obvious facts that revealed it as clever political deception aimed at sabotaging the nuclear agreement with Iran.
Stories in both of those outlets suggested that a leading think tank had revealed a secret deal that allowed Iran to exceed various qualitative and quantitative limits placed on it under the nuclear agreement reached last year — the main current theme of political opponents of the agreement. The stories were based on claims in a report co-authored by David Albright, the head of the Institute for Science and International Security, who has long been treated by corporate media as the leading “independent” expert on Iran’s nuclear program.
In fact, as Truthout revealed in 2014, Albright had abandoned any independence he had maintained on Iran as early as 2008 and had aligned his position on nuclear negotiations with Iran with those of the Bush administration and Israel…….
Albright’s attack on the Obama administration and the Joint Commission was only the latest installment in the current campaign by pro-Israeli media and political opponents of the JCPOA to claim existence of “secret side deals” between the Obama administration and Iran. Just six weeks ago, the Associated Press correspondent in Vienna, George Jahn, published a story that falsely portrayed Iran’s report to the International Atomic Energy Agency [IAEA] on its plan for implementation of the agreement as such a “secret side deal.” The agreement reached between Iran and the IAEA on the issue of alleged past Iranian nuclear work, which included arrangements for taking environmental samples at Iran’s Parchin military facility, was also treated by JCPOA opponents as a “secret side deal.” http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/37527-media-trumpet-another-phony-secret-nuclear-deal-story
Ryabkov Says U.S. Sanctions Continue To Hinder Iran After Nuclear Deal, Radio Free Europe September 01, 2016 The United States has carried out its part of the Iranian nuclear deal, but unilateral U.S. sanctions on Iran have remained in place and are a “big hindrance” for Tehran, a top Russian diplomat told TASS.
Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov, who is visiting Tehran, told TASS on August 31 that the U.S. administration has implemented “from start to finish” everything envisaged by last year’s agreement, “but it hasn’t moved any further.”
“All the so-called unilateral sanctions that existed before an agreement was reached with Iran have stayed in place,” he said.
“These unilateral sanctions are a big hindrance,” he said. “Any deal serviced in dollars goes through corresponding controlling agencies of the United States and can be suspended.”
Despite the removal of most international sanctions against Iran, Ryabkov said European and Asian businesses continue to be cautious about dealing with Iran and as a result, “deals are fewer than one would want to see.”
U.S., partners allowed ‘secret’ exemptions in nuclear agreement for Iran to meet sanctions deadline, http://www.bignewsnetwork.com/news/247272885/us-partners-allowed-secret-exemptions-in-nuclear-agreement-for-iran-to-meet-sanctions-deadline Big News Network, 1 Sep 16, WASHINGTON, U.S. – Reports reveal that the U.S. and its negotiating partners agreed “in secret” to allow Iran to evade some restrictions from last year’s nuclear agreement so it can meet deadlines for relief on economic sanctions.
According to reports, the U.S. and five negotiating partners agreed to allow Iran to keep more low-enriched uranium (LEU) and other nuclear materials than agreed upon, so that the country could be in compliance with the deal by the January deadline.
Another exemption was also made for an undisclosed amount of 20 per cent enriched uranium, described as “lab contaminant.” President of the think tank Institute for Science and International Security, former UN weapons inspector David Albright said that “the exemptions or loopholes are happening in secret, and it appears that they favour Iran.”
The decision was made by an oversight committee which included representatives from the five permanent United Nations Security Council nations, France, Russia, China, U.K., and U.S., along with Germany and Iran, dubbed collectively as the “P5+1.”
Had the exemptions not been allowed, Iran would have failed to comply with the January deadline, forcing the P5+1 powers to keep the sanctions in place.
Further, the report also makes claims that Iran was secretly permitted to maintain 19 radiation containment chambers, or “hot cells”, which violated the terms of the nuclear deal.
Iran was also relieved from having to sell off its excess heavy water, despite a clause in the agreement that the Islamic country should reduce its stores below 130 tons, and allowed it to store excess abroad.
Meanwhile, Iran is expected to build two new nuclear power stations, with aid from Russia, in Iran’s southern city of Bushehr.
Ali Akbar Salehi, head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran said, “Operations to build two new nuclear power plants in Bushehr will start on Sept. 10.”
Ali Akbar Salehi, head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran said, “Operations to build two new nuclear power plants in Bushehr will start on Sept. 10.”
He added, “We will save 22 million barrels of oil per year by building these two power plants,” and continued, “In the cooperation contract with the Russians, the emphasis has been laid on making use of technical capabilities of Iran for implementation of the project.”
The cost of the project is estimated at $10 billion.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said that global businesses were still wary of the effect of the remaining U.S. sanctions on Iran and that the commission monitoring the implementation of the joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) should address the issue.
He said, “We agree with the conclusions which our Iranian friends make, namely that some countries who participated very prominently while the talks were ongoing, now at the phase of implementation, I would use the word, (they are) stuck in their position of not removing obstacles which have been created by themselves through their national legislations, through their national decisions which do not allow for an even more active result-oriented and advanced economic and trade cooperation between Iran and the rest of the world.”
The system is reportedly thought to be capable of firing missiles at targets over 90 miles away. Independent, 31 Aug 16 Gabriel Samuels
The Fordow facility, situated roughly 60 miles south of the Iranian capital Tehran, is to be defended by a comprehensive S-300 surface-to-air missile defence system, supplied by the Russian government.
The system is thought to be capable of firing missiles at targets over 90 miles away and track potential threats within a 200 mile radius, carried on the back of large launcher trucks.
- Iranian state television broadcast footage showing the deployment of the system with General Farzad Esmaili telling reporters it was the air force’s “main priority” to protect the country’s nuclear facilities…….
- Operations at the Fordow uranium plant were thought to have ceased in January following an international agreement to limit Iran’s nuclear programme in exchange for lifting sanctions on Tehran…….
Officials have stated the site is now primarily being used for nuclear research and the production of isotopes for medical purposes, after the facility was converted into a technology and science centre.
General Esmaili said the S-300 missiles were a mobile system which would be relocated often to protect a range of site across the area.
Iran says that it has never sought nuclear arms and that the security around the site is intended to protect it from American or Israeli airstrikes.
Russia began delivering the S-300 system this year under a contract signed in 2007, and Iran says the entire system should be in place by the end of the year. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/iran-installs-air-missile-systems-around-former-nuclear-enrichment-plant-a7216846.html
The suspect was released on bail after a few days in jail but is still under investigation, Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejei said at a weekly news conference, calling the unidentified individual a “spy who had infiltrated the nuclear team,” state media reported.
The deal that President Hassan Rouhani struck last year has given Iran relief from most international sanctions in return for curbing its nuclear program, but it is opposed by hardliners who see it as a capitulation to the United States.
Ejei was responding to a question about an Iranian lawmaker’s assertion last week that a member of the negotiation team who had dual nationality had been arrested on espionage charges.
Tehran’s prosecutor general on Aug. 16 announced the arrest of a dual national he said was linked to British intelligence, but made no mention of the person being in the nuclear negotiations team. On Sunday, Ejei did not explicitly confirm that the arrested person had a second nationality.
Britain said on Aug. 16 that it was trying to find out more about the arrest of a joint-national.
Obama Admin Gives Green Light for Iran to Build Two New Nuclear Plants
New Iranian nuclear plants will not violate nuclear deal, officials say Washington Free Beacon, BY: Adam Kredo August 12, 2016
Iran is permitted to pursue the construction of two newly announced nuclear plants under the parameters of last summer’s nuclear agreement, Obama administration officials informed the Washington Free Beacon, setting the stage for Tehran to move forward with construction following orders from President Hassan Rouhani.
Ali Salehi, Iran’s top nuclear official, announced on Thursday that Iran has invested $10 billion into the construction of two new nuclear plants after receiving orders from Rouhani, according to reports in Iran’s state-controlled media.
A State Department official said to the Free Beacon following the announcement that Iran is allowed to move forward with this venture under the nuclear agreement, which does not prohibit this type of nuclear construction.
“The [nuclear deal] does not prevent Iran from pursuing new light-water reactors,” a State Department official not authorized to speak on record said to the Free Beacon in response to questions about Iran’s latest announcement. “Any new nuclear reactors in Iran will be subject to its safeguards obligations.”………http://freebeacon.com/national-security/obama-admin-gives-green-light-iran-build-two-new-nuclear-plants/
Israel minister admits Iran has respected nuclear deal, Yahoo 7 News, AFP on August 7, 2016 Jerusalem Israel’s energy minister on Sunday criticised a landmark nuclear accord between the Jewish state’s arch-foe Iran and world powers but said Tehran had so far respected the deal.
The agreement, which was signed in July 2015 and came into force in January, saw Tehran accept curbs to its nuclear programme in exchange for a lifting of economic sanctions by world powers.
“It’s a bad deal but it’s an accomplished fact and during the first year we spotted no significant breach from the Iranians,” said Youval Steinitz, who is close to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
“But it’s still too early to conclude that this 12-year deal is a success,” he told public radio.
Steinitz’s comments came after US President Barack Obama on Thursday defended the accord…..https://au.news.yahoo.com/world/a/32262076/israel-minister-admits-iran-has-respected-nuclear-deal/#page1
Iran executes nuclear scientist who returned to country from US Iranian judiciary confirms hanging of Shahram Amiri who it claims was a spy who had given away state secrets, Guardian, Saeed Kamali Dehghan, 7 Aug 16 Iran An Iranian nuclear scientist, whose disappearance in Saudi Arabia in 2009 and subsequent return to Tehran a year later from Washington was shrouded in mystery, has been executed in his home country.
The family of Shahram Amiri, an expert in radioactive isotopes at Tehran’s Malek Ashtar University, which is affiliated to Iran’s ministry of defence, told two overseas Persian-language TV networks at the weekend that he had been executed earlier in the week at an unknown location.
The spokesman for the Iranian judiciary confirmed on Sunday that Amiri had been hanged, claiming he had given away state secrets. The semi-official Tasnimnews agency quoted Gholam-Hossein Mohseni-Eje’i as saying that Amiri had been convicted of spying and put to death after his sentence was upheld by the supreme court.
“This person had obtained top secret information and established contacts with our number one sworn enemy, America, and passed on our country’s most crucial intelligence to the enemy,” Mohseni-Eje’i said.
Amiri’s execution marks the final dark chapter in a real-life spy drama that was the subject of much speculation. It also gives more weight to claims that he defected to the US after going missing on a pilgrimage to Mecca some time in spring 2009.
A few months after Amiri’s disappearance, Iran’s then foreign minister Manouchehr Mottaki accused the US of abducting the scientist. But ABC News reported in March 2010 that he had defected to the US as part of an intelligence coup aimed at undermining Iran’s nuclear programme. That report said he had been extensively debriefed by the US authorities……..https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/aug/07/iran-executes-nuclear-scientist-shahram-amiri-returned-country-from-us
Iranian President Hassan Rohani has criticized world powers for not fulfilling all of their commitments under a historic nuclear deal signed last year.
Rohani said on state television on August 2 that the failure to lift all sanctions against Iran had harmed the country’s economic growth.
He said that “if the other party had acted properly we would be in a better [economic] situation today.”
Rohani added that Iran still cannot access all of its assets held abroad and that the U.S. Congress, Israel, and some other unnamed regional countries had prevented the nuclear deal from being fully implemented.
He admitted, however, that Iran had been able to export much more oil after sanctions limiting exports were lifted and had regained access to the international banking system…..http://www.rferl.org/content/iran-rohani-world-must-fulfill-nuclear-deal/27896610.html
One Year After Iran Nuclear Deal, Sides Remain Compliant but Wary, Voice of America, Chris Hannas July 14, 2016 WASHINGTON— One year ago, exhausted diplomats from Iran and a group of six world powers emerged from a meeting at a luxury hotel in Vienna, Austria with what they had been seeking for nearly two years: a comprehensive agreement limiting Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for lifting harsh economic sanctions.
Today, the pact is in effect with clear results on its major components, but there are lingering suspicions on both sides that the other may take advantage and not live up to its responsibilities.
“We need to continue to work and we will continue to work and we have a specially designated ambassador whose day-to-day effort is leading a team to make sure that this deal continues to be lived up to, that we continue to be able to resolve any problems,” U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Thursday.
President Barack Obama called the pact a success, saying, “All of Iran’s pathways to a nuclear weapon remain closed.” He said the deal, implemented in January, has pushed the time frame for Iran to develop a nuclear weapon if it violated the agreement from two or three months to “about a year.”
But U.S. opponents of the deal a year ago have not changed their view, that it would not force to Iran to end its military activities in the Mideast or ultimately block it from developing a nuclear weapon………
EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini praised the agreement as a path to “a new chapter in international relations” that uses diplomacy to overcome decades of tensions. Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said that while the pact was not perfect, it was an important achievement and represented a foundation for a new diplomatic beginning.
Iran removed thousands of centrifuges that had been used to enrich uranium and shipped out the majority of its existing stockpile. World powers lifted their sanctions, unlocking billions of dollars for Iran and paving the way for new business opportunities there. Last month, U.S. aerospace giant Boeing announced a tentative deal to sell 100 jets to Iran’s state-owned airline.
Throughout the past 12 months, however, officials on both sides, particularly from Iran and the U.S., have spoken about the deal with comments that range from suspicion to outright rejection.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Wednesday that if the world powers fail to meet their responsibilities, then Iran stands ready to restore its nuclear program. Meanwhile, some members of the U.S. Congress want to ban the United States from purchasing nuclear-related material from Iran, accuse the Obama administration of giving up too much too soon in the negotiations, and are wary about how Iran is spending its newly unlocked money.
Iran has complained that despite the lifting of sanctions that once barred financial institutions from doing business with the country, foreign banks remain reluctant to be involved in transactions…….http://www.voanews.com/content/one-year-after-iran-nuclear-deal-sides-remain-compliant-but-wary/3417840.html
Year after nuclear deal, Iran’s high expectations not met, Christian Science Monitor To sell Iranians on the nuclear deal, President Rouhani promised a new era. But the consensus is it has yet to materialize, and many blame the US. By Scott Peterson, Staff writer JULY 14, 2016 ISTANBUL, TURKEY — Joy erupted on the streets of Tehran a year ago Thursday, when Iran signed a landmark nuclear deal with six world powers hailed as a victory of diplomacy over war.
The deal was marketed by both sides as a “win-win”: Iran would dismantle the most controversial aspects of its nuclear program – minimizing the chance of acquiring a nuclear weapon for at least a decade – in exchange for the lifting of sanctions that crippled its economy.
As jubilant Iranians waved flags and heralded an easing of Iran’s isolation, President Hassan Rouhani promised that “a page has turned in the history of Iran.”
But one year later, the 159-page accord is a study in unmet high expectations for change, as hard-liners in both Iran and the US Congress fight to undermine the deal to ensure as little political benefit as possible for the architects of the accord – Mr. Rouhani and President Barack Obama – as well as for their long-term strategic foes, in Washington and Tehran.
Analysts say the Iranian president promised more than he could deliver.
“Rouhani had no choice other than leveraging pent-up public demands to rally elite support for diplomacy; the hype was as indispensable as its ensuing disillusionment was inevitable,” says Ali Vaez, the senior Iran analyst for the Brussels-based International Crisis Group.
“The deal has not ushered in a new era. It is, at best, taking Iran back to where it was before the nuclear crisis,” says Mr. Vaez. “The establishment deemed ending economic isolation as an exigency for preserving its power. Now it fears rapid economic opening could loosen its grip on power.
All sides have strictly adhered to the letter of the deal: Iran has dramatically reduced the scale of its nuclear infrastructure – reconfiguring a heavy water nuclear reactor and a deeply buried uranium enrichment facility, for example – while keeping a limited capacity to produce fuel for nuclear energy. And non-nuclear sanctions have been lifted, partially ushering Iran back into the global economy.
But the deal has not yet enhanced Rouhani’s ability to fulfill his promise of expanding social freedoms, or of creating a less securitized atmosphere. In fact, the opposite may be true, after steady warnings from Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, about “infiltration” and “soft war” from the United States and the West.
US and European banks also are proving reluctant to engage with Iran, fearful that non-nuclear US sanctions might bite, thereby depriving Iran of the full hoped-for benefits of the deal. The House is readying new measures this week that will impose further sanctions over terrorism and human rights abuses, or limit Iran’s use of the dollar, all of which the White House says it will veto………..http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Middle-East/2016/0714/Year-after-nuclear-deal-Iran-s-high-expectations-not-met
Iran Nuclear Deal Faces Triple Threat in Congress on Anniversary http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-07-12/iran-nuclear-deal-faces-triple-threat-in-congress-on-anniversary Kambiz Foroohar kambizf
Three measures seek to derail agreement signed a year ago
Iran says it still waiting for full benefits from the accord
Republican lawmakers are pushing three measures to roll back a nuclear agreement with Iran, while the Obama administration’s lead negotiator for the accord defended its implementation one year after the deal was struck.
Three bills dealing with the agreement, under which Iran agreed to curtail its nuclear program in return for an easing of economic sanctions, are scheduled for a vote this week in the House of Representatives, where Republicans have a majority. The measures would then go to the Senate, which may not take them up before September.
One of the proposals would impose new sanctions on Iran over any sponsorship of terrorism or human rights violations. Another would bar the purchase from the Islamic Republic of “heavy water,” a non-radioactive byproduct of both the manufacturing of nuclear weapons and nuclear energy. The third would block Iran’s access to the U.S. financial system, including the use of the dollar.
All three measures have been met with promises of a veto from the White House. Without the Iranian accord, “we would have been forced to confront the reality of how to address Iran’s nuclear program in a world where diplomacy had failed,” Stephen Mull, the State Department’s lead coordinator for Iran nuclear implementation, said Tuesday at a Bipartisan Policy Center conference in Washington.
‘No Better Deal’
“There was no better deal to be had,” Mull said. “If Iran continues to meet its obligation and we walk away, we walk away alone. ”
While the U.S. remains concerned about Iran’s missile program, support for terrorism and human rights violations, within the confines of the nuclear agreement, “this deal is working,” Mull added.
After a decade of isolation under U.S.-led international sanctions, Iran is now seeing greater interest from businesses and banks in its $370 billion economy. However, Iranian officials complain that six months after the economic sanctions were eased, the country has yet to witness the financial benefits many predicted.
“Iran has a lot of homework to do,” Mull said.The three bills expected to be voted on this week in the House are in addition to a measure introduced to derail Boeing Co.’s agreement last month to provide 109 aircraft to Iran’s national airline, a deal valued at more than $17.6 billion. That would be the biggest business transaction between the two countries since the 1979 Islamic Revolution and the U.S. hostage crisis.
In issuing its veto threat this week, the White House emphasized that the legislation would undermine the viability of the nuclear agreement.
The deal “is critical to ensuring that Iran’s nuclear program is and will remain exclusively peaceful, which is profoundly in the national security interest of the U.S. and the international community,” according to the statement.
Germany says forces in Iran trying to torpedo nuclear deal, http://www.reuters.com/article/us-iran-nuclear-germany-idUSKCN0ZO1F9 8 July 16 Responding to German intelligence agency reports that Iran has been trying to acquire nuclear technology in Germany, Berlin said on Friday that certain forces in Iran may be trying to undermine its nuclear deal with the West.
Germany’s domestic intelligence agency, the Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV), said in its annual report that Iranian efforts to illegally procure technology, especially in the nuclear area, had continued at a “high level” in 2015.
A separate report from the intelligence agency in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia this week said it had registered 141 attempts to acquire technology for proliferation purposes last year and that two-thirds of these attempts were linked to Iran.
Asked about the reports on Friday, Foreign Ministry spokesman Martin Schaefer said Germany expected Iran to stick to a United Nations Security Council resolution which sets restrictions on arms-related transfers.
But he also suggested that the procurement attempts may stem from forces in Iran that oppose last year’s nuclear deal, under which Iran agreed to roll back its nuclear program in exchange for the lifting of western economic sanctions.
“There are forces within Iran for which the policies of the country’s president and foreign minister are a thorn in the eye,” Schaefer said. “They may be trying, one way or another, to undermine or torpedo the nuclear deal and the normalization of relations between us and Iran. We are watching this closely.”But hardline allies of Khamenei, including the elite Revolutionary Guards, are wary of losing their grip in power by opening up to the West and have repeatedly criticized pragmatist President Rouhani’s foreign policy.
Schaefer said Germany had a “great deal of faith” in President Hassan Rouhani and Foreign Minister Javad Zarif and had the impression that Tehran was doing its best to stick to the deal, which ended a 12-year standoff with the West over the nuclear program.
Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, whose power far outweighs that of Iran’s elected officials in parliament or the presidency, gave decisive support to the nuclear deal.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, in a speech to parliament on Thursday, said ballistic missile launches carried out by Iran earlier this year were inconsistent with the UN resolution, which calls on Iran to refrain from work on missiles designed to deliver nuclear weapons for up to eight years.
The NRW intelligence report said procurement efforts in 2015 had been focused on so-called “dual-use” technologies that can be used in both civil and military sectors. While nuclear-related procurement attempts fell slightly, those related to Iran’s missile program rose.
The report said documents had been falsified to suggest technologies were destined for the oil, gas and steel industries. In an apparent attempt to cover its tracks, Iran was seeking to acquire technologies via third countries, including the United Arab Emirates, Turkey and China, the report said.
The danger of the agreement collapsing, to the detriment of U.S. interests, is now evident. Under the nuclear accord, Iran agreed to constrain its nuclear program in return for economic reprieve from U.S. sanctions. While Iran has so far lived up to its nuclear-related obligations — addressing U.S. concerns over its nuclear program by reducing its number of operating centrifuges, reconfiguring its heavy-water reactor, and permitting an unprecedented inspections regime — the United States has struggled to fulfill its end of the nuclear bargain.
Hard-liners in Iran are touting the sanctions issue as an example of why the United States cannot be trusted.That message is having an effect: Recent pollingindicates that the Iranian people are growing increasingly skeptical that Washington is acting in good faith in meeting its commitments. Iranian moderates who support the accord, meanwhile, risk being undermined by this development. Absent a turn in Iran’s economic fortunes, the hopes and aspirations of the Iranian people will continue to be denied and their political engagement — as evidenced by recent parliamentary elections, in which Iranian hard-liners were dealt a significant defeat — stymied.
To its credit, the Obama administration is actively seeking to resolve concerns over the sanctions-lifting. A few weeks ago, Secretary of State John Kerry hosted a meeting of the British Bankers Association to encourage major European banks to re-engage their Iranian counterparts. High-level U.S. officials have likewise been touring the world, seeking to provide practical guidance on what the lifting of sanctions means and the scope of remaining U.S. sanctions. More public written guidance will soon be forthcoming.
But such guidance has been insufficient — and is likely to remain so. Following their meeting with Kerry, most of the banks in attendance stated publicly that they would not engage in Iran-related business for the foreseeable future, due to persistent U.S. sanctions risks. Without major European banks willing to re-engage Iran, financing will be unavailable for some of Iran’s bigger trade and investment opportunities.
The Obama administration needs a new game plan.Just as it expended political capital to secure the deal, it must expend the political capital to sustain it. Otherwise, the administration risks snatching defeat out of the jaws of victory and upending this historic diplomatic achievement.
Such additional steps come in two parts. First, the Obama administration will need to provide detailed written guidance to foreign banks and companies explaining what steps are required to ensure that they do not risk exposure to U.S. sanctions. Absent such guidance, non-U.S. banks and companies will continue to lack the confidence to engage in Iran-related dealings.
The Obama administration reportedly has been reluctant to provide the level of detail necessary to instill confidence in companies that they can do business in Iran. For instance, companies have long sought to understand the necessary level of due diligence to avoid exposure to U.S. sanctions — perhaps through a checklist of sorts. But U.S. officials, unwilling to act outside their comfort zone, have rejected calls to provide such detailed guidance, thus failing to address many firms’ primary concern.
Second, the Obama administration will need to take action to ease market entry into Iran. Banks have been hesitant to facilitate trade with Iran so long as Iran remains cut off from the U.S. financial system, and large foreign enterprises have been reluctant to pursue trade and investment opportunities in Iran so long as the U.S. primary trade embargo remains intact.
The administration can resolve these persistent concerns through a broader licensing scheme. For instance, the United States could re-authorize the U-turn license, which permitted U.S. dollar transactions involving Iran to be cleared through a U.S. bank, or license American banks to provide dollars to foreign financial institutions so that dollar-clearing can take place offshore. Similarly, the administration could take a hard look at the sense of maintaining a unilateral trade embargo with Iran while it is encouraging foreign parties to engage in trade with Iran. In lieu of those more dramatic steps, the administration could also license U.S. persons to facilitate certain transactions with Iran, particularly if those U.S. persons are employed in non-U.S. companies.
The politics of such action may not prove appetizing. Uber-hawks in Congress are bent on denying the Obama administration this diplomatic success and will try to block any action aimed at resolving sanctions concerns. But the sustainability of the nuclear accord is dependent on the Obama administration taking these steps. Absent such measures, the Iran deal threatens to unravel with the United States being the scapegoat, as Iran will continue to be denied the benefit of its bargain.
Passing off current problems with the lifting of sanctions to the next administration is not an option. Obama has made a big investment in limiting Iran’s nuclear program — the time is now to secure that investment.
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