By Arash Karami, for Al-Monitor. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iran Business News.
Will Iran be able to win over Britain when it comes to banking sanctions?
Two months after the Jan. 16 Implementation Day of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the lifting of nuclear-related sanctions has yet to usher the normalization of banking relations with Iran. To put pressure on the United States to uphold its commitments to facilitate the implementation of sanctions relief, it appears that the Iranians are now turning to Britain. In other words, the Islamic Republic is turning to ‘Little Satan’ to do what ‘Great Satan’ isn’t.
Speaking at the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) in London on March 10, Mohammad Nahavandian, the chief of staff to President Hassan Rouhani, implored Britain to take the lead on resuming banking relations with Iran. Of note, while other European nations involved in the nuclear negotiations with Iran have been quick to forge major business deals with the Islamic Republic, British firms have largely remained out of the limelight.
“British companies have not been the first in line,” Nahavandian said. “I think time is of the essence. Those who act quickly get the best results.”
“Particularly one area in which the British government and the city of London, being the most important financial center, can do, is on the banking frontier,” he added. “We need to see facilitation of banking relations as soon as possible and as complete as possible — and London can do that.” Moreover, after referring to the provisions of the JCPOA related to ensuring the implementation of sanctions relief, Nahavandian rhetorically asked, “Do you see that kind of ensuring on banking issues? Not yet.”
In Nahavandian’s telling, “There has been some work which has been done. SWIFT [a messaging network that financial institutions use to securely transmit information] is in place with all Iranian banks, there are some LCs [letters of credit] being opened here and there, there are some correspondent relations with some banks — but not everywhere.”