UANI statement on South African President Jacob Zuma’s visit to Iran

Apr 26
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South Africa president Jacob Zuma met Rouhani in Tehran to engage commercial relations
South Africa president Jacob Zuma met Rouhani in Tehran to engage commercial relations

Business Wire
Monday, 25 April 2016

NEW YORK--()--United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI), released the following statement today regarding South African President Jacob Zuma’s decision to visit Iran April 24-25. The statement is attributable to UANI Chairman Senator Joseph I. Lieberman and UANI CEO Ambassador Mark D. Wallace:

Despite Pretoria’s claim that “the lifting of nuclear-related sanctions against Iran provides immense potential for closer commercial and investment cooperation between South Africa and Iran,” an environment of risk and uncertainty looms large for the shareholders and executives of companies considering doing business with Tehran. Their big bet could turn into a disastrous gamble given the enormous financial, legal, and reputational challenges South African companies would face in the Iranian market.

With vast swatches of Iran’s economy dominated by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), which remains sanctioned by the U.S. Government and the global community as a terrorist organization, corporations are subject to a complex patchwork of sanctions and regulations. Furthermore, Section 311 of the USA PATRIOT Act continues to designate the entire Iranian financial sector as a jurisdiction of “primary money laundering concern.” The international anti-money laundering and terror-finance watchdog, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), recently warned of Iran’s “failure to address the risk of terrorist financing and the serious threat this poses to the integrity of the international financial system.”

The result is that companies face the risk of heavy financial penalties and impairment of lucrative business opportunities in other countries in the region, which are threatened by the IRGC’s aggressive and destabilizing activities.

As the first African leader to visit Iran since the implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) in January, President Zuma has a special responsibility to focus his efforts on pressuring Tehran to halt its destabilizing and provocative behavior rather than prematurely rewarding the Iranian regime with lucrative business opportunities.

Following the signing of the JCPOA, UANI initiated an intensive international campaign warning companies worldwide about the substantial legal, financial, and reputational risks of doing business in Iran. As part of the international campaign launch, UANI also released an open letter detailing the many hazards that business with Iran could trigger, signed by dozens of prominent defense and foreign policy experts. Signatories include former Homeland Security Advisor Fran Townsend, former Acting and Deputy CIA Director Michael Morell, former Attorney General Michael Mukasey, Senators Kit Bond and Norm Coleman, Ambassador Dennis Ross, and former National Security Advisor to the Vice President John Hannah, among others. The letter calls on the global business community to fully consider the potentially grave consequences of business ties to Iran, citing a host of risks.

UANI has led the effort to hold South African telecom giant MTN Group accountable for its role in aiding and abetting systemic human rights abuses in Iran, particularly in light of a report that prior to commencing its business in Iran, MTN was aware that Iranian security officials would have access to its users’ communications and location information.

UANI also successfully pressured South African energy giant Sasol to end its Iran business through a campaign, which included a billboard near Sasol’s U.S. headquarters in Louisiana.

About UANI

UANI is an independent, not-for-profit, non-partisan, advocacy group founded in 2008 by Ambassador Mark D. Wallace, Ambassador Richard Holbrooke, former CIA Director Jim Woolsey, and Middle East Expert Ambassador Dennis Ross, that seeks to heighten awareness of the danger the Iranian regime poses to the world.

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