Trump’s Iran deal reversal increases uncertainty for Austria’s Oberbank

One of the few European banks to have a credit deal with Iran said on Wednesday lending had been thrown into further doubt by the US withdrawal from a landmark nuclear agreement.

Trump's Iran deal reversal increases uncertainty for Austria's Oberbank
US President Donald Trump leaves after announcing his decision about the nuclear deal with Iran at the White House. Photo: AFP

In September, Austria's Oberbank signed a framework agreement to finance Austrian investment projects in Iran's infrastructure, healthcare and plant construction sectors.

It was the first European lender to do so since sanctions were eased following the 2015 pact between Iran and world powers.

However, since then the bank has not extended any funding, citing legal uncertainty.

On Tuesday US President Donald Trump announced the US withdrawal from the “disastrous” agreement and the reimposition of sanctions on Iran.

Oberbank said it would have to wait for further details of the deal's future and the next US moves before deciding on whether it could eventually begin providing credit. 

“We have to think of the security of our clients,” Oberbank spokesman Frank Helmkamp told AFP, pointing to the danger of falling foul of US sanctions on businesses that have dealings in Iran.

In response to Trump's move the other parties to the agreement have said they will try to keep it functioning.

The foreign ministers of France, Britain and Germany are due to meet  Iranian representatives next Monday “to consider the entire situation,”  France's Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told RTL radio on Wednesday.

Oberbank's statement reflects the general caution over financial firms' dealings with Iran and especially now after Trump's move.


Lufthansa, Austrian airlines cancel all Iran flights

Lufthansa is was cancelling all flights to and from Tehran until January 20, following indications that Iran mistakenly shot down a Ukrainian passenger plane earlier this week.

Lufthansa, Austrian airlines cancel all Iran flights
Image: Picture Alliance

The German group, which also owns Austrian Airlines, said on Friday the flight ban was “due to the unclear security situation for the airspace around Tehran airport”. 

All 176 people on board died when the Ukrainian International Airlines plane went down near Tehran on Wednesday, shortly after Iran launched missiles at US forces in Iraq over the killing of a top Iranian general.

American, British and Canadian officials say intelligence sources indicate Iran shot down the plane, perhaps unintentionally, but this has been denied by Tehran.

Several airlines had already announced they would avoid Iranian and Iraqi airspace as tensions in the region soared.

A Lufthansa flight between Frankfurt and Tehran on Thursday turned back an hour after takeoff because of security concerns.

Austrian Airlines meanwhile said late Thursday that its flight to Tehran that day was ordered to return to Vienna after a stopover in Sofia.