‘Scared to death’ of US retaliation, Europe shuns trade with Iran

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. © President.ir
European businesses that want to continue working with the American financial systems know that if they are caught cooperating with Iranian enterprises the US would go after them, Jacob Hornberger, Director of the Future of Freedom Foundation, told RT.

Despite the nuclear deal reached with Iran, the US still prohibits Iran's access to America's financial system.

RT: Iran says it's not getting the economic relief it was promised. Do you think they have a fair point?

Jacob Hornberger: I think they do. This is pretty much standard for the US government: they make a deal and then they double-cross the other side on the deal. Everybody understood that when the deal was made that all of the sanctions would be lifted and the spirit of the agreement was that that would include all of these other sanctions and regulations that punish European countries and other countries from dealing with Iran. Now these countries are scared to death because the regulations have not been lifted and they have reason to be scared. If they violate these regulations there is no doubt that the US government would go after them, seize their assets. What everybody thought was an agreement to lift all of these sanctions, rules and regulations hasn’t turned out that way. 

RT: US Secretary of State John Kerry says Europeans are using Washington's policies as an excuse to avoid doing business with Iran.  Why would he say that if that is so clear that many European countries would face a lot of problems if they did do deals with Iran? 

JH: Well, the Native Americans had an apt term for this type of thing. They called it ‘speaking with a forked tongue.’ What Kerry is doing is just speaking out of both sides of his mouth. He is acting like he’s innocent, that he doesn’t know what is going on. But these European countries know full well the extent of these regulations. And so does Kerry. He is just playing the innocent and sort of laying the responsibility on these European countries and acting like they don’t want to do business with Iran. 

But the fact is they do want to do business, but they are scared to death of these other regulations that the government would use as a sledgehammer if they’re caught trading with Iran. We see this time and time again with other countries. We see it with the embargo on Cuba. We see it with the sanctions on North Korea. If anybody violates these rules and regulations of the US government, the government goes after them. 

We have to understand here that all these sanctions, embargoes and so forth are totally illegitimate from a moral standpoint. A country that prides itself on what is called free enterprise and free markets is one where enterprise and economic activity is totally free of government control, interference and regulation. No government should be involved with controlling and regulating economic activity. And that is exactly what the US government does with these sanctions. 

RT: It can do that, can’t it? It essentially controls the US dollar. Many people need to use the US dollar for international transactions. Is there a way around the US dollar when it comes to international dealings with Iran?

JH: They can’t afford to do that, because if they are caught in any kind of technical violation, the US government will go after them. It will bar them from using the US banks, interacting with US financial institutions; in a worst case it will just seize their assets here in the US. Every company in Europe knows that if it wants to have anything to do with the American financial systems, it cannot afford to take that chance.

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