US, Allies to Help Ease Iran Trade

US, Allies  to Help Ease Iran Trade US, Allies  to Help Ease Iran Trade

US President Barack Obama vowed that Washington and its allies will help Iran reap full economic benefits from last year's nuclear deal, an apparent attempt to address Iranian grievances about US restrictive regulations.

Iranian officials have complained that fears of falling foul of remaining US sanctions are deterring wary foreign firms from engaging in business with Iranian counterparts.  

Speaking to reporters at the close of a two-day summit on nuclear security in Washington on Friday, Obama said, "Some of the concerns that Iran has expressed, we are going to work with them to address."

According to the Wall Street Journal, the US Treasury Department is specifically seeking to set clearer investment guidelines for Iran following the removal of most international sanctions in January under the July 14, 2015, nuclear deal in return for temporary curbs on Tehran's nuclear program.

Obama said US Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, along with his counterparts from the five other world powers that negotiated the deal with Iran, would provide "clarity to businesses about what transactions are, in fact, allowed".

 A Matter of Time

The US president also said foreign companies needed to get used to the idea of working with Iran after many years in which they faced high penalties if they did so and violated sanctions, Reuters reported.

Building investor confidence would take several months, Obama said.  

"It will take time for Iran to reintegrate in the global economy, but Iran is already beginning to see the benefits of this deal."

However, he said the US was not looking to permit the use of the US financial system for dollar-denominated transactions with Iran, and said foreign companies could work through European banks.

"It is not necessary that we take the approach of them going through dollar-denominated transactions. It is possible for them to work through European financial institutions as well," he said.

Most US sanctions against Iran remain in place and legislation that continues to ban any direct business between American and Iranian banks has placed the US financial system essentially off limits for transactions with Iran by non-US companies.

European and Asian bankers have said business in Iran has been particularly stymied by the inability of foreign banks to conduct US dollar-denominated transactions with the country.

Most major international business, particularly in oil and gas sectors, is conducted in dollars.

Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei on March 10 said the Iranian economy had not yet benefited from the western trade delegations visiting Iran, saying, "We are expecting to see some real improvements. Promises on paper have no value."

US officials had previously suggested that the United States is considering easing sanctions to permit non-American companies to have some access to the US financial system for dollar transactions involving Iran.

Obama praised the nuclear accord as a "substantial success" and a model for future diplomacy.

"This is a success of diplomacy that hopefully we will be able to copy in the future."