US sanctions fail to deter Iran’s business partners

Financial Tribune – The US desperate attempts to scare off global investors from Iran are certain to fail, an Iranian nuclear official said, citing business agreements recently signed between Iran and some high-profile global giants worth billions of dollars.

“US sanctions are meant to retain pressure on Iran and it is trying to rally everyone to help do this, but it has already done the most it could and I believe the US attempts will lead nowhere,” said Behrouz Kamalvandi, the spokesman of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran.

Speaking in a recent interview with ISNA, Kamalvandi noted that the US has been unable to drive a wedge between Iran and its business partners after the removal of international sanctions under the 2015 nuclear deal opened the Iranian economy to the global markets.

He singled out France, a key European ally to the US.

“France, while seeking to preserve its mutual interests with the United States, has continued its interaction with Iran,” he said.

In the latest sign of enhanced bilateral trade, France’s Total signed a contract with Tehran early this month to develop a phase of Iran’s South Pars, the world’s largest gas field, marking the first major western energy investment in Iran after it shook off years of economic sanctions.

Other major French corporations, including planemaker Airbus and automobile manufacturers Peugeot and Renault, have also signed deals with Iranian counterparts.

Hawkish US President Donald Trump has called for a full review of the nuclear accord, which he criticized as “the worst deal ever negotiated”.

Officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the landmark pact scaled down Tehran’s nuclear program in return for the sanctions removal.

The JCPOA partners of USA, namely Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China, have so far resisted Trump’s calls for revising the action plan, highlighting it as a significant diplomatic achievement.

But the remaining US non-nuclear restrictions, which feature a ban on dollar-denominated transactions with Iranian partners and the financing of such deals through Washington’s financial system, have discouraged the overseas businesses from engaging in Iran’s untapped market.

***Latest Hostile Move

The US Congress has been introducing anti-Iran measures to interfere with the implementation of JCPOA, the latest being a senate sanctions bill targeting the Islamic Republic over its ballistic missile launches and alleged terrorism charges and human rights abuses.

It still needs to clear the House of Representatives before being sent to Trump to be signed into law.

“The new sanctions are a hostile move that would violate both the JCPOA’s spirit and its text,” Kamalvandi said of the senate’s legislation.

Among the curbs Iran accepted on its nuclear work under the action plan was a commitment to redesign and rebuild the Arak reactor.

Consistent with the deal, Tehran, Beijing and Washington released a joint “statement of intent” on Oct. 18, 2015, to announce cooperation on the Arak Modernization Project and shortly afterward published a related document signed by all the parties to the nuclear agreement.

Iran and China signed a long-awaited deal in late April to go ahead with the joint implementation of the project.

Commenting on the latest developments, Kamalvandi said, “The elaborate design developed by the Iranian experts was presented to the Chinese side. Its preliminary assessment of the plan was very promising and indicates that our experts have done a perfect job. Securing China’s approval of the design is very important to us.”