John Kerry's Awkward Push For Investment In Iran

Secretary of State John Kerry has negotiated himself into the odd position of lobbying in support of investment in Iran.

As he tries to keep the Iran nuclear agreement on track in the final year of the Obama administration, Kerry has become personally involved in trying to help Iran get economic benefits out of the deal. That’s no easy task and one that critics say is letting Iran off the hook.

Kerry huddled with European bankers in London on May 12 to tell them “legitimate business” is available to them in Iran. He took Treasury Department officials with him to “dispel any rumors” about how the US will enforce its remaining sanctions on Iran.

In speaking to bankers, Kerry emphasized that “as long as they do their normal due diligence … they’re not going to be held to some undefined and inappropriate standard.”

Many banks, though, are still wary of doing business in Iran. One reason, but not the only one, is that banks fear the possibility that U.S. sanctions could “snap back” if Iran violates the nuclear deal.

As promised, the U.S. has suspended sanctions under the terms of the nuclear agreement that Washington and other world powers negotiated with Iran last year.

However, the U.S. still considers Iran a state sponsor of terrorism and says it routinely violates the rights of its citizens. So there are still some U.S. economic sanctions in place over these issues, which are separate from the nuclear deal.