12 Things You Didn’t Know About South Africa-Iran Relations

Written by Dana Sanchez
Iranian soldiers. Photo: Chavosh Homavandi/AFP/Getty

South African businesses were wary of doing business with Iran after sanctions were lifted

After the Iran Nuclear Deal concluded in 2015, Iran was officially open for business again with most countries in the world, including South Africa. But South African companies were wary about returning.

According to the deal, Iran would redesign, convert, and reduce its nuclear facilities in order to lift all nuclear-related economic sanctions, freeing up tens of billions of dollars in oil revenue and frozen assets, according to a joint statement by the E.U. and Iran.

The main concern for South African businesses was that most primary U.S. sanctions remained in place initially, and those would affect dealings between Iran and other countries.

South Africa had bought much of its oil from Iran before E.U. and U.S. sanctions were imposed. U.S. secondary sanctions hit South Africa hardest because they stopped other countries from doing business with Iran or risk sanctions from the U.S. There were fears Obama’s successor would reverse the Iran Nuclear Deal. Trump vowed while campaigning to tear up all international agreements signed by the Obama administration. A key player in the nuclear negotiations, Helga Schmid visited South Africa in May 2016. Schmid said she was not worried. “Europe and many others will protect this agreement. In Europe everyone will support it, every one of the 28 countries.”

Source: ENCA, Joint Statement by the E.U. and Iran