After weeks of conflicting statements from different US officials on exactly where they stand on international banks doing business with Iran, and complaints from both Europe and Iran that the US is failing to live up to its obligations, the State Department is now trying to treat the entire story as a myth.
Today, the US State Department claimed that US sanctions were never a real obstacle to companies doing business with Iran, saying companies are lying and blaming the US sanctions as an excuse for other, unspecified “risks” that are putting off investors.
That doesn’t appear to make a lot of sense, as the businesses with eyes toward long-term deals with Iran are lining up around the block to make such pacts, while the international banks, whose involvement would be limited to simply ferrying unfrozen Iranian assets to those companies, are the ones holding the process up.
Last month, Britain attempted to get a trade delegation arranged to Iran, and had no problem lining up companies, but was unable to find a single bank willing to go along, and every one cited fear that the US would “punish” them for their involvement.
The State Department has insisted from the start that this is not the case, while the US Treasury Department has bragged to Congress about how tough they remain on Iran, particularly with respect to its access to the global banking system.