For companies considering reentry into the Iranian market, there are a number of concerns that should impact the timing and nature of any new investment or ties:

The IRGC

The status of Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC)-linked entities following a nuclear deal is still unclear. Many of these entities, including the IRGC’s construction arm Khatam al-Anbia are major players in various economic sectors. Significant financial transactions with the IRGC are currently sanctioned pursuant to §104(c) of CISADA and it is not assured that this category of sanctions will be lifted even with a deal.

Phased Sanctions Relief 

Sanctions relief will phased in order to coincide with Iranian actions on the nuclear front and are conditioned on Iranian compliance with the terms of a JCPOA. The speed of sanctions relief will therefore depend on Iran’s ability to satisfy the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) both in terms of initial steps and continued compliance. The fact that U.S. sanctions relief will be accomplished via presidential waiver also means that in the event of Iranian non-compliance, suspended sanctions can be reinstated almost immediately.

The Banks

With the numerous high-profile bank settlements of the past several years, including the $8.9 billion penalty levied on BNP Paribas, it may be some time before compliance officers at western financial institutions are comfortable facilitating deals with Iran. Heightened expectations surrounding anti-money laundering and counterterrorist financing may also lead banks to turn away Iran-related business, at least initially.

Potential Iran investors should therefore keep in mind that all that glitters is not gold.