US officials Explain Iran Policy but fail to Persuade

Iranian businessmen have expressed frustration that US reassurances are failing to persuade large European banks that they may legally finance trade with and invest in entities in Iran that do not face sanctions.

Mostafa Beheshti Rouy, an executive board member and director of international affairs for Bank Pasargad, Iran’s largest bank, told Al-Monitor that only third-tier European banks have shown any willingness to re-enter the Iranian market.

Since the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) was implemented Jan. 16, the Obama administration has sent officials to explain the situation to Switzerland, Britain, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Oman, Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Thailand and Hong Kong, Al-Monitor has learned. In addition, US officials have held video conferences with bankers from other countries, including Afghanistan, Malaysia and Indonesia.

Before meeting with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in New York on April 22, Secretary of State John Kerry told reporters that the United States has “no objection and we do not stand in the way of foreign banks engaging with Iranian banks and companies, obviously as long as those banks and companies are not on our sanctions list for non-nuclear reasons.”

Kerry added that these banks shouldn’t “assume that activities still prohibited by the primary [US] embargo are also prohibited for foreign actors” and that his message was, “when in doubt, ask.”

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