"On Feb. 24, 2016, the Treasury Department issued a specific license to Bank Muscat to authorize the conversion of Iran's rials to euros through 'any United States depository institution ...,'" the draft report said. As a part of the nuclear deal, the USA agreed to carry secondary sanctions that focused different nations or establishments doing enterprise with Iran, its oil trade, and extra - but it surely stored in place most of its personal sanctions, together with blocking Iran from US banks.
The investigation, published Wednesday by the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, further discloses secret efforts by top Obama administration officials to assure European countries they would receive a pass from US sanctions if they engaged in business with Iran.
A report released by Republican senators on the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigation said the Obama administration didn't tell Congress that it sought access for Iran and, in its eagerness to clinch the nuclear deal, was trying to dodge sanctions that remained in place following the 2016 agreement. "The Administration has not been and is not planning to grant Iran access to the USA financial system".
For example, in July 2015, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that, under the JCPOA, Iran "will continue to be denied access to the [U.S.'s] financial and commercial market". The global financial system is heavily intertwined with US banks, making it almost impossible to conduct many worldwide transactions without touching NY in one way or another. Remove the words "Obama" and "Iran" and replace them with "Trump" and "Russia" and imagine the outrage that would ensue over the same revelations.
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Then, after issuing the license, the Obama administration explicitly denied to Congress that it had done so. The report explained that without the license, the Omani bank would have violated existing sanctions that prohibit Iran from engaging in transactions using the USA financial system.
McGurn said scandals are the norm in most administrations, but he finds the Obama administration's dealings with Iran in a category of its own that involve misleading Congress and the public.
Iran eventually found other ways to convert its money to Euros so it could access it.
However, they said the decision to grant the license had been made in line with the spirt of the deal, which included allowing Iran to regain access to foreign reserves that had been off-limits because of the sanctions. Iran as a substitute approached the US a couple of waiver - one which the Obama administration granted in February 2016, in a transfer that had not been beforehand disclosed.
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Both before and after the deal was signed and voted on by Senate, the Obama administration assured Congress that Iran would not be able to access USA banks. Both banks declined to complete the transaction due to compliance, reputational and legal risks associated with doing business with Iran.
- Transparency on other sanctions relief granted to Iran and whether this relief also exceeded the scope of the JCPOA or contradicted public statements by Obama administration officials.
The situation resulted from the fact that Iran had stored billions in Omani rials, a currency that's notoriously hard to convert. "It was aimed exclusively to allow the movement of Iran's own funds stranded at an Omani bank into euros at a European bank, where Iran could then make use of them". Despite issuing the specific license to allow Iran to access the USA financial system, Bank Muscat was unable to effectuate the conversion using the US dollar. That process commonly starts with the rupees being converted into dollars, just for a moment, before being converted once again into euros.
He said he'd reimpose sanctions and work with USA allies to "find a real, comprehensive and lasting solution to the Iranian nuclear threat".
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US sanctions block Iran from exchanging the money on its own.