Foreign Banks Reassured About Iran Business

Foreign Banks Reassured About Iran BusinessForeign Banks Reassured About Iran Business

A nuclear negotiator reassured non-US banks that they are safe from the remaining American sanctions to enter into transactions with Iranian businesses, citing recent remarks by the top US diplomat that his side is not opposed to such dealings.

Sanctions against Tehran were lifted in mid-January when the July 2015 nuclear accord with major powers went into force to scale down Iran's nuclear program in return.

Iran has been frustrated that it is not benefiting from the agreement, as foreign banks still steer clear of processing transactions.

The US restrictions ban the use of the US dollar and access to its financial system in transactions involving Iranian companies, keeping international businesses wary of exploring the untapped Iranian market.

US Secretary of State John Kerry said last week, "The United States is not standing in the way and will not stand in the way of business that is permitted in Iran since the [pact] took effect."

Speaking to reporters before meeting his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif in New York on Friday, Kerry said he was trying to clear up uncertainty in the business community outside the United States about investing in Iran.

"There are now opportunities for foreign banks to do business with Iran … Unfortunately there seems to be some confusion among some foreign banks and we want to try and clarify that," Kerry said.

"Among the nuclear-related sanctions that were lifted were those that prevented Iran from engaging with non-US banks, including getting access to Iran's restricted funds."

***Outcome of Diplomacy

Abbas Araqchi, the head of the Foreign Ministry's office for the implementation of the deal, told state television on Sunday that it was Iran's diplomatic push that led to Kerry's "explicit" assurances.

"He explicitly acknowledged that there is no reason for non-US banks to worry about dealing with Iranians. This was the result of Iran's diplomatic pressure," IRNA quoted Araqchi as saying.  

The issue was the focus of a Friday meeting of the Joint Commission on the deal where a working group was charged with tackling obstacles in the way of lifting sanctions.

In a meeting with visiting EU foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, in Tehran on April 17, Zarif urged the bloc to put pressure on Washington to allow Iran to fully rejoin the global financial system.

On the sidelines of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank's spring meetings in Washington in mid-April, Central Bank of Iran Governor Valiollah Seif also called on the United States and European Union to give Tehran access to the global financial system.