The White House is pushing to ease the way for companies to complete deals with Iran, aiming to cement the nuclear agreement reached last year and make it difficult for future administrations to undo it, senior U.S. officials said.
The effort got a boost this week when Boeing Co. reached a $17.6-billion deal with Iran to sell commercial jets to the country’s main airline.
A Boeing spokesman declined to comment on any specific effort by the administration. In a letter Thursday responding to criticism of the deal from two Republican lawmakers, the company’s senior vice president for government operations, Tim Keating, said the administration had made it clear in consultations with Boeing that “the ability to provide Iranian airlines with U.S. and European replacement commercial passenger aircraft for their fleets was key and essential to reaching closure on the agreement.”
Administration officials are also studying whether to publicly back Iran’s bid to join the World Trade Organization, a move opposed by America’s Persian Gulf allies, such as Saudi Arabia, WSJ reported.
The global agency responsible for combating money laundering, the Financial Action Task Force, this week is weighing whether to remove Iran from a blacklist in a bid to improve its ability to conduct financial transactions through Western banks. A decision is expected as early as Friday, said U.S. and European officials.
Administration officials have said they are seeking in Obama’s final months in office to make his policies toward Cuba and Iran, which have been controversial, difficult for his successors to unravel.
U.S. officials are also exploring what they say are other ways of integrating Iran into the global economy, with more announcements expected in the months before Obama leaves office in January. Among them is a process for giving Iran limited access to the U.S. dollar, which administration officials said has made some progress.
“We’re not going to stand in the way of permissible business activity with Iran,” a senior administration official said. “As long as Iran is meeting the terms of the deal, then we’re going to uphold our end of the bargain, and that is going to result in some additional business activity with Iran.”
The US Secretary of State John Kerry and other U.S. officials are hoping an economic windfall in Iran will empower Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, seen as a pragmatist and a relative moderate in Iran’s government.
Administration officials say a longer-term goal is that business engagement with Iran will facilitate political change there, as Obama hopes is the case in Cuba.