U.S. Chamber Of Commerce Writes Iran To Express Its Opposition To Sanctions

In honor of President Obama’s ice-breaking speech at the Chamber of Commerce Monday, a source passed along this story from Iran’s semi-official Fars News Service.

Head of Iran’s Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Mines Mohammad Nahavandian underlined on Wednesday that the US and European companies and economic institutions are completely opposed to imposing sanctions against Iran.

“The economic atmosphere of the US and Europe is opposed to sanctions against Iran,” Nahavandian told FNA.

Stressing that the American people are not interested in imposing sanctions against Tehran, he said that the US Chamber of Commerce along with seven other institutions recently sent a statement to Iran and underlined the US private sector’s opposition to such embargoes.

Emphasis added.

A Chamber spokesperson was not immediately available to confirm the report, but it’s compatible with the group’s other, recent efforts. Early last year, the Chamber, along with eight other business-friendly groups, wrote to then-National Economic Council director Larry Summers and then-National Security Advisor Jim Jones opposing Iran sanctions legislation. “The undersigned business organizations are profoundly concerned that current legislative proposals to expand U.S. sanctions on Iran…would significantly undermine the U.S. national interest,” the groups wrote. “While we agree that preventing Iran from developing the capability to produce nuclear weapons is an urgent U.S. national security objective, the unilateral, extraterritorial, and overly broad approach of these bills would undercut rather than advance this critical objective.”

Months later, the Chamber claimed some credit for having changed the legislation. “We were pleased that after much work by the Chamber and our partners, the final legislation was much improved over earlier drafts,” wrote the Chamber’s senior VP for international affairs. “Sanctions are more carefully tailored, and the risk of our major exporters losing their Export-Import Bank credits due to the byzantine wording of an earlier version has been avoided. Overall, while the authority to sanction companies is expanded, much of the discretion that exists for the president was preserved.”

It’s hard to see the relationship between the administration and the Chamber thawing given how far-reaching their policy differences are.

Late update: The Chamber of Commerce denies corresponding with Iran on this issue. Read our followup post here.