By David Daoud
The US State Department questioned on Monday a report from Iranian state-run news agencies claiming that a “delegation of oil dealers and investors from the US” were scheduled to arrive in Iran this week to meet with local counterparts.
The report, initiated with Mehr, was also carried by Press TV‘s and even made its way into Al-Jazeera and Reuters.
Questioned on the matter at the State Department’s daily press briefing, acting spokesperson Jeff Rathke said he wouldn’t “speculate about a visit” which “has not even been confirmed and the nature of which is completely obscure right now.”
“It’s hard to verify whether these reports are accurate at all,” he said, “but also we’ve been quite clear that we don’t consider Iran to be open for business yet, and that if there is any sanctionable activity happening, then we will take action.”
According to Mehr, the Deputy Petroleum Minister of Iran, Abbas Sheri-Moghaddam, “confirmed the news and predicted more cooperation with US big companies and refineries on Iran’s oil and gas projects after the removal of sanctions.”
“It is predicted that, following the visit by the American delegation to Tehran and possible removal of sanctions against the oil industry, we will witness the presence of major international US oil and gas companies in Iran in future,” he reportedly said.
The report added that Sheri-Moghaddam also announced that other European and American companies had stepped forward to participate in “new petrochemical projects in Iran.”
When asked about the legal restrictions in place on American companies investing in, or doing business with, Iran, Sheri-Moghdaddam reportedly suggested a mechanism for American companies to bypass the restrictions for investments in the Iranian petrochemical industry, saying, “There is no limitation for foreign investment in the country, because when these companies want to invest in Iran, they should first register an Iranian company which can operate in Iran without facing any limitation.”
Golnar Motevalli, a reporter for Bloomberg news from Iran, tweeted that Iran’s state-run petrochemical company said that Mehr’s report was based on an interview Sheri-Moghaddam had given to SHANA, but that he never said that a US oil delegation would arrive in Iran this week.