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‘US hurts itself by threatening countries over dealing with Iran’

Published time: February 06, 2014 08:52

EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton (3rd L) poses next to Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and the Iranian delegation in Geneva (AFP Photo / Fabrice Coffrini)

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The US risks isolation on the issue of Iran if it is going to continue threatening countries against doing business with Iran, says political analyst and professor at the University of Tehran, Seyed Mohammad Marandi.

Investors are once again flocking to Iran - over 100 French companies descended on Tehran on February 3 to establish business connections. This has set off alarm bells in Washington, with Secretary of State John Kerry warning that the oil-rich nation is still not open for business and that French companies will be punished if they violate US sanctions with Iran.

Separately, Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman told US lawmakers in Washington on February 4 that “Secretary Kerry has talked directly to [French] Foreign Minister [Laurent] Fabius about the trade delegation... about how this is not helpful.”

“Tehran is not open for business because our sanctions relief is quite temporary, quite limited and quite targeted,” she said.

RT: What's the harm in international corporations doing business with Iran - as long as no active sanctions are violated?

Seyed Mohammad Marandi: First we have to keep in mind there are no international sanctions being violated. The sanctions that had been imposed are American sanctions. They’ve sanctioned the Iranian central bank and they’ve warned other countries from doing business with Iran. The US is basically dictating to third countries as how to behave, who to trade with and how to trade - which is itself a breach of international law.

But I think we already see very strong signs that the US-imposed sanctions regime is cracking. And the fact that delegations from many countries including a major delegation from France, which has been hostile to Iran for the past few months, show that not only the countries are in a race to get into Iran, but that the Western countries who have had the most difficulty with Iran need Iran a great deal. Obviously, the Iranian economy is facing difficulties because of the American imposed sanctions, but France is doing quite poorly itself. And France needs countries like Iran. So the US is in a very difficult position because of the agreement they are in a bind of some sort. So if the US starts to sanction its own allies then I think it’s going to become more isolated.

RT: Will Washington's warning have any effect on businesses seeking to explore Iran's economy?

SMM: I think the Americans will have great difficulty because there are delegations coming from across the globe. Just recently we’ve had senior delegations, both political and otherwise from China, and from other countries in Asia, Europe, Latin America – all of them want to be more involved with Iran. I think this is something that actually overwhelms the US.

The Americans are playing it unrealistically. If the Americans behaved more rationally they would be able to move themselves towards rapprochement with Iran - perhaps get a piece of the cake. But also by behaving in such an irrational manner towards Iran, by threatening countries from doing business with Iran, in the long run they hurt themselves more than anyone else.

As I said the sanction regime is already breaking down. It is becoming more difficult for the Americans to enforce. The balance of power is already shifting away from the US and Europe naturally; Asia is becoming more powerful. So in the long term the Americans know they cannot hold back Iran. And the only realistic way is for the US to become more reasonable and rational towards the country.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

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