West’s Practical Steps Needed to Ease Iran Business

West’s Practical Steps  Needed to Ease Iran Business  West’s Practical Steps  Needed to Ease Iran Business

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said recent statements by the western parties to the nuclear pact need to be backed by practical steps, if they are to effectively clear Iran's path to rejoin the global economy.

Iran was given relief from nuclear sanctions in January in return for rolling back its nuclear program under the deal clinched six months earlier with P5+1 (the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council plus Germany).

Tehran has been complaining about the remaining US non-nuclear sanctions that have hampered Iran's economic benefits from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, as the accord is formally called, by scaring foreign investors and firms away from Iran's emerging market.

Under the complex US regulations, non-US banks are banned from clearing dollar-denominated transactions involving Iranian companies through the US financial system.

Iran's diplomatic push to compel the western side to honor their commitments led to a joint statement by the United States, Britain, France and Germany aimed at reassuring cautious foreign investors.

The four powers acknowledged their pledge under the action plan to ensure Iran's access in areas of trade, technology, finance and energy, saying, "We will not stand in the way of permitted business activity with Iran and we will not stand in the way of international firms or financial institutions engaging with Iran, as long as they follow all applicable laws."

They promised to continue providing global firms with explanations on how to stand clear of US sanctions in their dealings with Iranians and offered to answer any questions companies might have in this connection.

US Secretary of State John Kerry said on April 22 that his side is not opposed to foreign banks doing business with Iran in line with the terms of JCPOA.  

He added that he was trying to clear up uncertainty in the business community outside the United States about investing in Iran.


***New Atmosphere

Addressing a joint press conference with his New Zealand counterpart Murray McCully in Tehran on Sunday, Zarif said, "Obstacles are being gradually removed … But we believe that statements should be accompanied by practical measures," IRNA reported.

"The statement by Kerry on the sidelines of our visit in New York and the joint statement by the foreign ministers of the United States and the three European countries signal the emergence of a political atmosphere where these countries feel they should demonstrate their commitment to JCPOA."

Zarif noted that in his recent meetings with Kerry, British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond and EU foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, they agreed to adopt and pursue practical measures to help facilitate the Iran trade, but added that the US is expected to take further steps.

The Iranian minister also expressed satisfaction at the rising level of cooperation between Iran and New Zealand, saying that over the past few months, there has been a substantial improvement in various domains of bilateral relations, including trade and political consultations.

Zarif said the growing trend will be reinforced in the coming weeks and months through visits by New Zealand delegations.