Iran May Renounce Nuclear Deal due to International Banking Woes
In a speech on Tuesday, April 14, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani tried to paint a rosy picture of the “achievements” from the nuclear deal with Western powers. In response to his growing number of opponents, he claimed the agreement has spurred economic growth, reduced unemployment and improved relations with the international community. He also said that the relations between Iran and international banks are getting back on track.
The speech followed a flood of criticism by regime radicals who claim that the deal did not result in any economic benefit for the country. They assert it only slowed down Iran’s nuclear program and is now endangering its development of missiles.
Despite Rouhani’s claims, statements by Valiollah Seif, governor of Iran’s central bank, in his meeting with US Treasury Secretary Jack Lew last week showed a completely different picture.
According to DEBKA Weekly’s sources in Washington and Tehran, Seif said Tehran has not profitted from the deal as international banks are avoiding transactions with Iran due to fear of being punished by Washington. Although the US, along with the other four permanent members of the UN Security Council, declared the lifting of international sanctions, it maintains economic sanctions over Tehran’s missile development program, acts of aggression and support of terror.
This has created a situation in which large global banks, despite the lifting of sanctions, are avoiding transactions with the Iranian regime due to their magnitude of business with the US. Washington refuses to promise these banks that they will not be punished if they trade with Iran.
US Secretary of State John Kerry said on Tuesday that Iran has recovered only $3 billion of its frozen assets from the international financial system since sanctions were lifted three months ago.
In a meeting with Kerry on Tuesday night, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif protested against the so called US failure to implement its part of the nuclear agreement. He said Iran is not seeking to trade with the US (which is barred by supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei), but is only asking Washington not to interfere with Tehran’s transactions with non-American banks, mainly European ones.
Zarif claimed that if the US continues to refuse, it will destabilize President Rouhani’s government and strengthen the radicals who oppose the nuclear deal. He said Khamenei’s approval of the agreement was in condition to achieving results, which until now have been very disappointing.
DEBKA Weekly’s sources in Tehran point out that the regime’s political and economic struggles are a victory for the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) that is trying to bring about the cancellation of the unsigned deal.
During the last few months, the IRGC carried out a number of provocative actions against Washington and its allies in order to boost opposition to the lifting of sanctions within the US. Iran humiliated US marines that were detained by the IRGC’s navy near the Strait of Hormuz. The IRGC also carried out a series of ballistic missile tests, and even wrote on the sides of some of the missiles, in Hebrew, “Israel must be wiped off the face of the earth.”
In addition, Iran has announced its intention to continue implementing its policy of intervention in Iraq, Syria and Yemen. The sacking of the Saudi embassy in Tehran was part of this policy aimed at worsening relations with Arab countries to the point of rupture.
There are increasingly lowd speakers for the radical camp in Iran calling for a reexamination of the nuclear agreement. The country’s parliament, the Majlis, has demanded the foreign minister to report every three months on the implementation of the agreement.
The first report was submitted this month by Zarif himself. Several members of the parliament’s foreign affairs and defense committee have slammed the report and accused Rouhani’s government of weakness vis-à-vis the Americans.
Javad Karimi Qodussi said that the contents of the report were a far cry from Iran’s expectations. He has demanded harsh steps by the government against the US, while accusing it of violating the agreement.
Will Tehran renounce the nuclear deal? At this stage, it does not dare to declare its withdrawal from the agreement. It has carried out the first commitments for implementation of the agreement, and now the Iranians believe the other countries and especially the US need to cancel their sanctions.
Tehran’s tense relations with Moscow have also shaken the confidence of Iran’s leaders. Although parts of a Russian-made S-300 missile system were displayed during a military parade in Tehran on April 17th, these were only components and not missiles or launchers.
The Iranians are aware that the Russians are intentionally delaying delivery of the missiles, and using it as a means of applying pressure on Tehran to cooperate with its Syrian policy.