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‘US advising banks to avoid Iran bans’

The US State Department said on Wednesday that it is advising foreign banks on how to avoid the remaining primary sanctions on Iran. 

“As Iran complies with JCPOA and receives a certain amount of sanctions relief, it is incumbent on us … to live up to our end of this deal,” State Department spokesman Mark Toner told reporters.

“And part of that is to advise these banks and governments on ways that they can…”. “Avoid US sanctions?” a reporter filled in for him. “Precisely,” Toner replied, as reported by the Washington Examiner.

“It’s part of an effort to provide guidance to ensure that they understand clearly the extent of US sanctions relief… And it’s complicated.”Toner’s briefing with reporters was another sign that the Obama administration’s plan to ease financial sanctions against Iran is difficult to describe, at least publicly, the report added.

Republicans have charged the Obama administration with trying to allow dollar-denominated transactions with Iran that are done through foreign banks, and say that concession goes against the will of Congress.

Toner again rejected that this is the plan.

“We continue to advise banks and other governments on ways that they can conduct business with Iran in a way that does not violate existing U.S. sanctions, and there are ways to do that, but it does not involve banks converting money to dollars or otherwise,” he said.

Reports earlier said that despite the January removal of economic sanctions against Iran, global enterprises are still complaining that trade with the country is still difficult as a result of lingering fears of US punitive actions.

A key obstacle which is specifically affecting business with Iran is the unwillingness of international banks to process transactions with the country.

US banks are still forbidden to do business with Iran and while lenders based elsewhere are not covered by this ban, major problems remain, emphasized the report. Chief among these are rules prohibiting transactions in dollars from being processed through the US financial system, it added.

In March, Principal Deputy Coordinator for Sanctions Policy at the US Department of State Chris Backemeyer, said that US officials were meeting business leaders around the world to persuade wary firms that doing business with Iran – now that the sanctions against the country have been lifted – is all right.

“We’ve tried to make it 100 percent clear,” Backemeyer told reporters in Dubai, where he was meeting local and international companies to explain what the US saw as legitimate business with Iran and what it viewed as illegitimate, Reuters reported.

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