Roadblocks on the Path to Normality in Iran

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On May 10, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry prepared to discuss Iranian sanctions with leading members of the European banking industry in London. However, this time Kerry came, not to urge sanctions enforcement, but to reassure European banks that they are “absolutely free to open accounts for Iran, trade and exchange money, facilitate a legitimate business agreement, bankroll it, [and] lend money.”

In many ways, these words are symbolic of how far international – and especially U.S. – rapprochement with Tehran has come since the implementation of Iranian sanctions relief under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), an international agreement concerning Iran’s nuclear program. However, they are also a sharp reminder that the nuclear deal was only one step on a long path toward normalized relations. A number of U.S. sanctions still remain in place and, as a tumultuous American election cycle reaches full steam, international banks and businesses remain wary of doing business in the Islamic Republic.

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