Obama Can and Should Protect Nuclear Deal

Obama Can and Should Protect Nuclear DealObama Can and Should Protect Nuclear Deal

A former nuclear negotiator said the US president should avoid losing the momentum generated by the Iran nuclear deal to eliminate longstanding hostility and mistrust with Tehran by using his mandate to help create confidence in the global community about entering Iran’s market. The United States, along with France, Germany, Britain, China and Russia, reached a historic deal with Iran last July that lifted most sanctions in return for temporary curbs on Tehran’s nuclear program.

But European banks are still reluctant to enter Iran because they have no solid legal assurance from Washington that its enforcement agencies would not later sue them for violating residual American sanctions laws that predate the nuclear negotiations.

This is while, Resolution 2231, adopted by the United Nations Security Council days after the accord to endorse it, “specifically includes allowing non-American banks to operate in Iran,” Hossein Mousavian noted in an article published by the New York Times on Monday. So far, political commitments by US Secretary of State John Kerry and his European counterparts not to pursue the banks, including in a joint statement last month, have not had their intended confidence-building effect, he said.

  New Narrative

“One result is that a narrative is emerging in Iran that the United States has failed to live up to a key commitment under the nuclear agreement,” Mousavian said, citing recent remarks by the Leader of the Islamic Revolution that “anyone who has ever trusted America was eventually slapped by it.”

“If this narrative gains momentum and wipes out the sense of hope and optimism that the nuclear deal brought to Iran’s business community and its general public, we risk re-entering the tired old path of mistrust and antagonism, a lose-lose paradigm for Iran, the United States, the Middle East and beyond,” the ex-diplomat said.  

To avoid that outcome, and allow full implementation of the deal, non-American banks and companies should be provided with concrete legal assurances, Mousavian said.

“We firmly believe that President [Barack] Obama has the power to provide such assurance, and that he should use it now.”

To this aim, Obama needs to impose a moratorium on prosecuting non-US banks that wish to work with Iran, he added. “In sum, if the president finds that Washington politics make it impossible for him to work with Republicans to adapt domestic laws to the United States’ foreign policy needs [and, at this point, to American obligations under international law], we believe that he can, and should, at least use his authority over law enforcement and foreign policy to protect the achievements of the nuclear deal.”