US Secretary of State John Kerry (L) meets with Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in New York, April 22, 2016. (AFP)
The United States is not opposed to foreign banks doing business with Iran following Tehran’s compliance with a historic nuclear agreement with the P5+1 group of countries, Secretary of State John Kerry says.
“The United States is not standing in the way, and will not stand in the way, of business that is permitted in Iran since the (nuclear agreement) took effect. I want to emphasize we lifted our nuclear-related sanctions as we committed to do,” Kerry told reporters, sitting alongside his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif in a New York hotel on Friday.
“There are now opportunities for foreign banks to do business in Iran. Unfortunately, there seems to be some confusion among some foreign banks and we want to try and clarify that as much as we can,” he said.
Iran and the P5+1 group — the United States, Britain, France, China, Russia and Germany — reached the nuclear agreement, dubbed the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), in July 2015 in the Austrian capital Vienna. The agreement went into effect on January 16.
Under the JCPOA, Iran agreed to put some restrictions on its nuclear energy program in exchange for relief from economic sanctions that had been imposed on the Islamic Republic based on the unfounded accusation that Tehran is pursuing non-civilian objectives in its nuclear program.
Top Iranian officials have said that the US is not honoring its end of the nuclear accord. Iran has criticized the US for refusing to grant it access to the global financial system. Tehran says such access is one of the goals of the nuclear deal, and has urged Washington to stop preventing non-American banks from dealing with Iran.
US State Department spokesman John Kirby
The Iranian foreign minister welcomed Kerry’s earlier statement, expressing hope that it would bring Iran’s rights under the JCPOA.
“We hope that the statement made today by Secretary Kerry will begin to open the difficult path that had been closed because of concerns that banks had about the US approach toward implementation of the commitments under the JCPOA,” Zarif said.
On Thursday, US State Department spokesman John Kirby said Washington had scrambled expert teams, “akin to a roadshow,” to assure world bankers that they can do trade with Iran.
“We certainly are not trying to become an obstacle in any way of foreign banks and institutions working with Iran through the sanctions relief process,” Kirby said.