Financial Times Profiles Intensive UANI Campaign to Deter Iran Business

For Immediate Release
May 4, 2016
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Financial Times Profiles Intensive UANI Campaign to Deter Iran Business

UANI Letters to Hundreds of Companies, Like General Electric, Fiat, Siemens, Bombardier and Maersk Warn of Iran Business Risks

New York, NY - The May 2 print edition of the Financial Times (FT) profiled United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI)’s launch of an international campaign to discourage companies from doing business in Iran, “warning that they could fall foul of remaining sanctions.”

UANI will use a mixture of paid advertisements in newspapers and on social media, public letters, op-eds, and letters to the editor “to put pressure on multinationals that have either returned to Iran since the deal or are thinking of doing so.” UANI will be sending hundreds of these corporate demand letters over the next months, and has already sent dozens of them to corporations such as General Electric, Fiat, Siemens, Bombardier and Maersk, as well as major South Korean companies.

UANI CEO Ambassador. Mark D. Wallace told the FT, “As they get on a plane to Tehran, companies need to have a hard look at the business risk… The risk profile has not fundamentally changed.”

This week, UANI sent a delegation to the Europe-Iran Forum in Zurich, Switzerland to raise awareness of the risks of pursuing business in Iran, and also had full-page notices on Iran business risks published in Korean in Wall Street Journal Asia and in Germany’s Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, as those two countries sent trade delegations to Iran.

The FT profile of UANI was broadly reported on in international media, including in Arabic (BBC, Al-Alam, Tasnim), English (Kayhan, Tehran Times,Bidness), French (Press TV), German (20 Minuten), Italian (America 24), Korean (Yonhap, Kyunghyang Shinmun, Hankook-Ilbo) Persian (Mehr, Raja), and Spanish (HispanTV).

US lobby group to campaign against business investment in Iran
Bipartisan body warns big western companies of potential of falling foul of remaining sanctions

By Geoff Dyer
Financial Times
May 2, 2016 (p. A2)

An influential American lobby group that tried to block the Iran nuclear deal is launching an international campaign to discourage big western companies from doing business in the country, warning that they could fall foul of remaining sanctions.

United Against Nuclear Iran, a bipartisan group which was at the forefront of the campaign against last year’s landmark nuclear agreement, will use a mixture of newspaper adverts and public letters to put pressure on multinationals that have either returned to Iran since the deal or are thinking of doing so.

The ramped-up lobbying against business with Iran comes at a sensitive time when Tehran is already complaining loudly about what it believes to be the lack of economic benefits it has received so far from the agreement.

Western diplomats say that the tensions over sanctions relief have so far not reached a point that could undermine the deal but acknowledge that Iran feels it has been short-changed. John Kerry, US secretary of state, has met his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif twice in the past fortnight to discuss how the agreement is being implemented.

UANI plans to send letters warning about the continued risks of doing business with Iran to 140 international companies who are pursuing business there, 30 of which have already been written. It will also publish a series of newspaper and television adverts in Europe this week ahead of a major conference in Zurich to encourage trade and investment in Iran.

“As they get on a plane to Tehran, companies need to have a hard look at the business risk,” said Mark Wallace, a former US ambassador to the UN who is chief executive of UANI. “The risk profile has not fundamentally changed.”

Mr Wallace pointed to US sanctions that are still in place over Iranian human rights violations, support of terrorism, and its ballistic missile programme. Any company connected to the Iranian Revolutionary Guards is also still covered by sanctions.

Responding to the charge that he was using public pressure on multinationals to try to unpick the Iran deal, Mr Wallace said that the agreement did offer “limited sanctions relief” to Iran “but in terms of a flood of businesses going back in, that was never the idea”. It was a risk for companies to be associated, he said, with “the country that is the biggest state-sponsor of terrorism”.

Since the nuclear deal was implemented in January, European banks have been particularly reluctant to do business that involves Iran for fear that they will be caught up in the remaining sanctions and restrictions.

Iran’s supreme leader and ultimate decision maker, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has accused Washington of breaking the nuclear agreement, last week blamed the US for preventing his country’s reconnection to the global banking system.

“On paper, they [Americans] write that banks can work with Iran but in practice they fan Iranophobia by claiming Iran is a state sponsor of terrorism and could face sanctions [again],” he said. “This sends a message of ‘do not do business with Iran’ and as a result foreign investors and banks are scared of working with Iran.”

Peter Wittig, German ambassador to the US, said: “We always believed that some trade resumption was part of the nuclear deal. This is what sanctions relief means.” Although the Iranians argued that they had not received the economic benefits they were promised, he said, “we are not yet arriving at a breaking point”.

Trita Parsi, president of the National Iranian American Council and a strong supporter of the nuclear deal, said that a “successful campaign that puts a stigma on doing business with Iran would be a de facto sanction”.

However, he said that the campaign would only have a genuine impact if it was accompanied by more “harsh rhetoric by the Republican candidate that gives companies the impression that the Iran deal is not solid yet” and continued uncertainty about how the remaining sanctions will be applied.

The companies UANI has written to so far include General Electric, Bombardier, Maersk and Siemens. In its letter to GE, which has said it intends to do some business with Iran, UANI said the company’s decision would “give aid and comfort to a lawless regime that foments terrorism and unrest”. GE responded that any business it conducted in Iran would be “allowed by [US] laws and regulations” and would be “consistent with the foreign policy of the United States and in the best interests of GE’s shareholders”.

UANI was set up in 2008 by a bipartisan group of former officials, including former CIA director Jim Woolsey, Richard Holbrooke and Dennis Ross, a Middle East expert who played a key role in several administrations.

Gary Samore, a former senior Obama administration official, resigned as the group’s president last year after he concluded that the nuclear deal was in the national interests of the US.


Following the signing of the JCPOA, UANI initiated an intensive international campaign warning companies worldwide about the substantial legal, financial, and reputational risks of doing business in Iran.  As part of the international campaign launch, UANI also released an open letter detailing the many hazards that business with Iran could trigger, signed by dozens of prominent defense and foreign policy experts.  Signatories include former Homeland Security Advisor Fran Townsend, former Acting and Deputy CIA Director Michael Morell, former Attorney General Michael Mukasey, Senators Kit Bond and Norm Coleman, Ambassador Dennis Ross, and former National Security Advisor to the Vice President John Hannah, among others.  The letter calls on the global business community to fully consider the potentially grave consequences of business ties to Iran, citing a host of risks.


About UANI

UANI is an independent, not-for-profit, non-partisan, advocacy group founded in 2008 by Ambassador Mark D. Wallace, Ambassador Richard Holbrooke, former CIA Director Jim Woolsey, and Middle East Expert Ambassador Dennis Ross, that seeks to heighten awareness of the danger the Iranian regime poses to the world.