Iran Roundtable Event

IRan Roundtable

Roundtable Event Implications of the U.S. Withdrawal from the JCPOA and the Re-Imposition of U.S. Sanctions on Iran

On Thursday, January 31, the Walker School of Business and Technology hosted a roundtable discussion on the Trump administration’s decision last year to withdraw from the multilateral agreement to limit Iran’s nuclear program. This agreement was concluded in July 2015 between Tehran and six major world powers (U.S., UK, France, Russia, China and Germany). The panel was assembled by the Iran Switzerland Chamber of Commerce. Participants looked at various aspects of the U.S. withdrawal, including the imposition of sanctions and its impact on European trade, investment and financial transactions with Iran.

A report on the event/topic was aired with brief interviews of guest speakers on RTS radio the following morning (listen, in French here).

Event summary:

Moderated by Professor Dominique Jolly, the chair of the School of Business and Technology


• Jubin Goodarzi, Deputy Head and Associate Professor in International Relations at Webster Geneva Campus
• Grégoire Mallard, an Associate Professor of Anthropology and Sociology at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva
• Laurent Sciboz, a financial advisor and banking specialists
• Harif Nezam-Mafi, Chairman of the Iran-Switzerland Chamber of Commerce in Tehran
• Cyrus Siassi, an attorney-at-law and Chairman of the Iran-Switzerland Chamber of Commerce in Geneva.

Summary of panelist comments: (provided by Dr. Jubin Goodarzi, Faculty, International Relations)

The panelists stated that Washington is intent on bringing about regime change in Iran, or at the very least capitulation of the Iranian government to a list of twelve demands that Tehran would never accept. The social and economic aspects of sanction regimes were discussed, and also the legal limitations and pitfalls of trying to conduct business in Iran under the current circumstances. The panelists underscored that it would be highly problematic for Swiss and European firms, particularly those that have a presence in the U.S. market, to engage in business and commerce with Iran due to the nature of the U.S. sanctions. They pointed out that certain small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and banks that have no links with North-America could do business in Iran since it is a very large, mature and attractive market, if they take certain precautionary measures.

Much of the discussion focused on European Union efforts to establish the Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) to enable European companies to circumvent U.S. sanctions and conduct business with Iran. However, the participants expressed some skepticism about the efficacy of the SPV. It was argued that it could potentially serve as a vehicle to enable Iran to purchase only food, medicine, medical equipment and humanitarian supplies, resembling the UN-sponsored Oil-for-Food Program that was established in the mid-1990s in the case of Iraq, which proved to have major shortcomings. The key role of the EU and Switzerland in adopting effective measures to salvage the JCPOA was emphasized by the panelists, otherwise, Tehran may be left with no incentive to abide by the JCPOA. Irrespective of the outcome, the main losers are the people of Iran who are facing economic hardship and an uncertain future.