Remarks With Foreign Secretary Hammond After Their Meeting

John Kerry
Secretary of State
1 Carlton Gardens
London, United Kingdom
May 12, 2016

SECRETARY KERRY: I want to thank Secretary Hammond for hosting key bankers from around Europe in order to answer questions that the banking community has had regarding the impact of lifting of sanctions and questions that they have about what this really means and how does it really work. And in some cases there have been – there has been a reluctance in some places to take risk or to – what they think is a risk.

So what we’ve been trying to do here today with the representation of the Treasury Department and our officials who are dealing with this is clarify and put to rest misinterpretations or mere rumors about how this is applied. We want to make it clear that legitimate business, which is clear under the definition of the agreement, is available to banks. As long as they do their normal due diligence and know who they’re dealing with, they’re not going to be held to some undefined and inappropriate standard here.

We also will be continuing to hold Iran accountable to live to up to the agreements and the standards that Iran needs to meet. So this was really an effort to listen to the bankers, to hear from them what their perceptions are, the hurdles that they see to moving, and to be able to address those as directly as we can and define for them our interpretation of the law and of the standards so that there’s a clarity going forward and, hopefully, an ability to be able to do those things that are meant to be done under the agreement.

Both sides have an obligation to live up to this agreement and both sides need to get the benefit of the agreement. Our benefit is that we see a nuclear program that is now visible, open to inspection, understandable, restrained, and living up to the standards of the IAEA. And they have an expectation that the sanctions that were supposed to be lifted are in fact lifted and that the implementation is appropriate. That’s the agreement and that’s what we’re trying to do.

FOREIGN SECRETARY HAMMOND: Yeah. And thank you, John, for coming here and taking the time to listen to the European banks this morning. What we’re trying to address is a gap between the undoubted political commitment of the United States to make this agreement work in practice, to allow Iran to access the world’s trade system and the world’s financial system, and the reality of what the European banks are finding in practice. We’re trying to bridge that gap; we’re trying to understand where those disconnects are between the political intention and the banking world reality and work out together how we can bridge them to allow these European and global banks to support European businesses in resuming normal trade and investment patterns with Iran. That’s what all of us want in order to deliver the dividend from the JCPOA that Iran expects and deserves.

And if we’re going to achieve our strategic objective, which is drawing Iran back into the international community – normalizing relations, including trade and investment relations with Iran – we have to succeed in this. It’s – essentially it’s the first hurdle in the race, and if we fall at this one, then we’ll never get the chance to demonstrate all the other benefits that can flow from this agreement that we spent so much time and energy delivering last year.