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Iran not seeking access to US financial system: Zarif


Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif says Iran is not seeking access to the US financial system but Washington must assure other countries they could do business in Iran without risking penalties.  

“We never asked to have access to your financial system,” Mohammad Javad Zarif said, referring to the United States, in an interview with The New York Times.

“What we asked was to implement the nuclear deal, which requires the United States to allow European financial institutions to have peace of mind for dealing with Iran,” he added.

The remarks came after Zarif held a meeting with his American counterpart John Kerry at the United Nations to discuss the proper implementation of the nuclear agreement known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

A head of his Tuesday talks with Kerry, Zarif called on Washington to stop meddling in Iran’s banking and financial ties with other countries and said the US must “seriously” live up to its side of the nuclear agreement.

The JCPOA was struck between Iran and the P5+1 – the United States, France, Britain, China, Russia and Germany – on July 4, 2015.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif (L) and US Secretary of State John Kerry pose for a photo opportunity prior to a meeting on April 19, 2016 at the United Nations in New York. ©AFP

After the two sides started to implement the JCPOA on January 16, all nuclear-related sanctions imposed on Tehran by the European Union, the Security Council and the US were lifted.

However, a variety of United States sanctions on Iran remain in force over other issues. Those sanctions include prohibitions on relationships between Iranian and American banks and severe limits on Iran’s use of the dollar.

This has made US and European businesses reluctant to do business with Iran over the fear of being penalized under US regulations. The US has fined some of the largest international banks for trading with Iran.

Last week, Governor of Iran’s Central Bank Valiollah Seif hit out at the US and the EU for failing to honor the nuclear agreement by keeping Iran locked out of the international financial system

Zarif said while the US Treasury has taken some steps to implement the nuclear agreement, “I don’t think it’s enough.”

“They need a much more proactive approach to just letting people know that they won’t be punished for dealing with Iran,” he added.

Officials in the US State Department and Treasury have frequently said that Iran will not be given any access to the American financial system.

Kerry acknowledged earlier this month that Iran deserved access to the system because it had met its obligations under the nuclear agreement.

Zarif and Kerry will meet again later on Friday to further address the nuclear agreement and its proper implementation.

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