from Pressure Points and Middle East Program

Kerry Boosts Iran’s Economy

May 12, 2016

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The Wall Street Journal has a remarkable story this week, entitled as follows:"Kerry Tries to Drum Up Some Business in Europe for Iran."

Mr. Kerry, traveling in Europe, was urging European firms to do business with Iran in the aftermath of last year’s nuclear deal. The story continues:

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“If they don’t see a good business deal, they shouldn’t say, ‘Oh, we can’t do it because of the United States.’ That’s just not fair. That’s not accurate,” Mr. Kerry said. The secretary is here through Thursday for an anticorruption summit and diplomatic meetings. He will meet with European banking leaders to “address their concerns about conducting business with Iran” after the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, a U.S. official said. In New York last month, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif pressed Mr. Kerry and other U.S. officials to do more to reassure other countries that they could do business with Iran without penalty. “Iran has a right to the benefits of the agreement they signed up to and if people, by confusion or misinterpretation or in some cases disinformation, are being misled, it’s appropriate for us to try to clarify that....”

 

Iran is the world’s largest state sponsor of terrorism. It continues to rally its population with shouts of "Death to America." It supports Hezbollah, a murderous terrorist group with the blood of hundreds of Americans on its hands. It has a nuclear weapons program that has been delayed, one hopes, by the nuclear deal--but continues its ballistic missile program, whose only logical purpose is to deliver nuclear weapons. It is an enemy of American allies such as Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Israel.

Why, then, is our Secretary of State trying to assist its economy? The so-called "spirit" of the nuclear agreement? There is no such thing, or Iran would not have captured and abused American sailors in the Gulf in January. Iran’s "rights" to benefits from the agreement? That is nonsense. Iran has the "right" to an end to nuclear sanctions, but has no "right" to additional business. There are many reasons companies may hold back, ranging from American terrorism and human rights sanctions, to uncertainty about future American policy, to fear that entities in Iran with which they may undertake business are also involved in illegal or terrorist activities. Moreover, Iran is not a democracy with a reliable legal system, but a dictatorship run by the ayatollahs and the Revolutionary Guard where legal rights cannot possibly be guaranteed. There is simply no defensible reason for an American official, much less our top diplomat, to concern himself with how much investment and profit Iran can eke out of the nuclear deal. The effort to do so betrays America’s real interests in the Middle East, which are challenged by a richer and better resourced Iran.

One can only hope that business men and women realize that Kerry’s speeches notwithstanding, they face considerable business risks when going into Iran. Quoting his speeches won’t help them when they face unfair treatment in an Iranian tribunal, or when the U.S. Treasury prosecutes then in future years for dealing with entities engaged in illegal acts. In any event, talking up business with Iran is no part of Mr. Kerry’s brief.

More on:

Iran

Middle East and North Africa

United States

Diplomacy and International Institutions

Sanctions

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