There has been a great deal of concern expressed in the western press about Iran’s continuing missile program. For critics of the JCPOA (the nuclear deal), Iran’s missile tests have been taken as a sign that Iran still cannot be trusted and that the deal was a mistake. The same dynamic is taking place in Tehran. Iran still is having trouble doing business with the international community
- These challenges have meant that the flow of money into and out of Iran remains largely paralyzed. US Secretary of State John Kerry has admitted that Iran has been unable to access much of its own unfrozen assets in offshore accounts. Back-to-back visits by foreign officials and hundreds of trade delegations to Iran have culminated in stacks of agreements that have little prospect of materializing insofar as they lack financial backing.
- Although the US administration has taken some positive measures to ease the concerns of Europe’s banking sector, these steps have so far failed to sufficiently reassure companies that they will not be explicitly or implicitly penalized for permissible business with Iran.
- European banks are also concerned that the US Congress will impose fresh secondary sanctions over Iran’s non-nuclear-related behavior. In addition, the post-2008 US restrictions on dollar-denominated transactions with Iran — transactions necessary for processing most major deals — pose serious impediments for European investors.
Just like in the US, this is putting the Iranian moderates who supported the deal in a politically vulnerable position. It is also giving hardliners lots of rhetorical material to work with, and allowing them to regroup after several years of political disarray.