Both Tehran and Washington insist they’re committed to the accord. But Iran’s concerns and the prospect of the deal collapsing were evident in April, when Valiollah Seif, Iran’s central bank governor, made a rare visit to Washington, ostensibly to attend the spring meetings of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund. At a sit-down with Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew, Seif demanded more sanction relief. “They need to do whatever is needed to honor their commitments,” the Iranian banker told an audience at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, a Washington-based think tank. “Otherwise, the [nuclear deal] breaks up under its own terms.”
Probably the biggest source of friction is a U.S. law that bars Iran from using the U.S. financial system and the American dollar, even indirectly. The law, enacted in 2012, was aimed at punishing Iran for a variety of alleged sins: the country’s ballistic missile program, human rights abuses and state-sponsored terrorism. Because these issues haven’t been resolved, there is virtually no chance Congress would repeal the law in the foreseeable future, experts say. As long as that statute remains in place, foreign banks holding Iran’s funds in dollars will be wary of doing business with the country.