During a speech April 27, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has final say on all foreign policy decisions, delivered one of his most critical assessments of what he considered US duplicity in removing sanctions on Iran post-nuclear deal.

“Sometimes the Americans complain from afar that why are you pessimistic toward us,” Khamenei said. “Well, the issues that cause pessimism, we see them and cannot close our eyes to them.” Referring to the remaining US banking sanctions that prohibit Iran from conducting business with other countries in US dollars, Khamenei said, “Why are the big banks not ready to work with Iran? The reason big banks are not ready to work with Iran is Iranphobia, which the Americans created and continue.”

Khamenei said that on paper the United States claims banks can conduct business with Iran but in reality different steps are taken that create Iranphobia. As an example, Khamenei said, “The Americans say that Iran is a state sponsor of terror and because of their support of terrorism they may be sanctioned.” Khamenei asked, “What message does this send to banks and foreigners? It sends the message to not conduct trade with Iran. As a result, the banks and foreign investors become fearful of cooperating with Iran.”

On April 22, US Secretary of State John Kerry said that the United States was trying to clear up uncertainty for businesses outside of the country that wish to invest in Iran. He added that the United States was not opposed to foreign banks dealing with Iran. However, since the nuclear deal between Iran and the six world powers was implemented in January, many European and Asian companies have been advised to “steer clear of all transactions with Iran for fear of undermining American sanctions.” While the European Union removed most sanctions on Iran, the United States kept its own non-nuclear sanctions in place.

President of Iran’s Central Bank, Valiollah Seif, discussed the banking issues on April 24, saying that small banks and mid-sized banks have not had problems in establishing a relationship with Iran. However, he added, “Due to fines that are imposed by the Americans large banks are fearful and have doubts about establishing banking relations with Iran.”

As another example of the United States promoting Iranphobia and creating obstacles for foreign investors and banks, Khamenei said, “They claim that foreign countries do not work with Iran because of the domestic situation in Iran, while domestically there is not a place safer in the region than Iran. It is safer than America, where every day a number of people are killed.”

Khamenei also said that statements by US officials that the sanctions regime must stay in place is another example of Iranphobia meant to scare investors. Khamenei said, “We are facing this type of enemy and for any activity that we engage in, we must take this enmity as granted.” He said that in the last 37 years, since the Islamic Revolution and the founding of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Iran has progressed and “if this enmity lasts for a 100 years, in spite of them we will progress for those 100 years.”

By Arash Karami