Foreign Investment in Iran: Multinational Firms’ Compliance with U.S. Sanctions

September 10, 2018

Weapon Program: 

  • Nuclear


David Adesnik and Saeed Ghasseminejad


Foundation for Defense of Democracies

When President Donald Trump withdrew from the nuclear deal with Iran, he ushered in a high-stakes competition between the United States and Europe to determine whether unilateral U.S. sanctions could impose overwhelming pressure on Iran, or if European governments could protect the economic gains that accrued to Tehran from the nuclear deal. If European countermeasures defused American sanctions, the incentives for Iran to abide by the deal would remain intact. Perhaps more importantly, Europe would demonstrate that Washington cannot wage economic warfare without its consent and participation.

A critical measure of European ability to restrain the United States is the response of European multinational corporations to the return of U.S. sanctions. In addition, it is important to monitor how top Asian multinationals navigate the transatlantic competition. Will leading multinationals withdraw from the Iranian market rather than risk losing access to American markets and the U.S. financial system? Or will firms conclude the U.S. threats are hollow, since punishing European and Asian multinationals would inflict substantial damage on American firms and consumers?


Read the full report at Foundation for Defense of Democracies.