WASHINGTON (Circa) — The Trump administration has given companies an ultimatum: You can do business with the U.S. or Iran, but not both. And several companies have already come to a decision.
One of them is German car manufacturer Daimler AG, which decided Tuesday, the same day sanctions went back into effect, to cease its operations in Iran.
"We have suspended our activities in Iran, which were anyway very limited, until further notice according to applicable sanctions," Daimler AG spokesperson Silke Mockert told Circa. "We will continue to closely monitor the political developments, especially in connection with the future of the nuclear agreement."
But Daimler AG isn't the only German company that has decided to cut ties with Iran, a senior U.S. diplomatic official told Circa.
The effort to convince German businesses to divest from Iran has been led by U.S. Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell. Grennell has met with several German CEOs and successfully lobbied the German central bank to block the transfer of $400 million in cash to Iran last week.
We are pleased to see German businesses stopping their trade with Iran, complying with U.S. sanctions, and helping pressure the Iranian regime back to the table. We stand together to stop Iran's malign activities.— Richard Grenell (@RichardGrenell) August 7, 2018
These financial evacuations are happening in the wake of President Donald Trump's decision to remove the United States from the 2015 nuclear agreement with Iran earlier this year. Iran was seen as a potentially lucrative market for several major international companies after the U.S. and various other world powers agreed to lift their sanctions after the signing of the deal, also known as Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). Mockert, however, noted the development of the Iranian economy was "significantly weaker than expected."
"They are all going to comply," said the senior U.S. diplomatic official, adding that no selling point was necessary. The official said the companies apparently understood they have to pick one country with which to do business. Regardless, Trump took to Twitter on Tuesday to reiterate the point.
"Anyone doing business with Iran will NOT be doing business with the United States," wrote Trump.
The Iran sanctions have officially been cast. These are the most biting sanctions ever imposed, and in November they ratchet up to yet another level. Anyone doing business with Iran will NOT be doing business with the United States. I am asking for WORLD PEACE, nothing less!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 7, 2018
The Trump administration has said their game plan is to squeeze Iranian finances in an attempt to broker a better agreement down the road. Multilateral sanctions were seen as a major reason as to why Iranian leaders came to the negotiating table in 2015. The administration is betting that even stricter sanctions will have the same effect this time, but Iranian President Hassan Rouhani seemed to doubt that will happen in an interview with Iran's Press TV on Monday.
"The one who talks about negotiations and dialogue today is that same individual who has exited unilaterally from many international treaties," said Rouhani.
That said, he also noted he doesn't have any preconditions to speak with the U.S. in the future.