Removal of US Non-Nuclear Bans Not Impossible

President Hassan Rouhani has said after the lifting of nuclear sanctions, his government is ready to have other sanctions removed to advance national interests
Bahram QasemiBahram Qasemi

Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesman described as a difficult task an electoral campaign promise by President Hassan Rouhani to lift non-nuclear sanctions mainly imposed by the US, but said nothing is impossible when it comes to diplomacy.

Bahram Qasemi made the statement at a regular press briefing on Monday, IRNA reported.

"Of course, the other sides should also show goodwill and fairness, so we can work out other problems, as we did it before", he said.

Rouhani, who is seeking a second four-year term in the May 19 election, vowed last Friday in the third and last live TV debate that he will try to have all anti-Iran sanctions removed.

"After the lifting of nuclear sanctions in the past four years, I am ready to have other sanctions removed and restore dignity to the Iranian people and [advance national] interests," Rouhani said.

Rouhani was pointing to his signature achievement in removing the nuclear-related sanctions under the July 2015 nuclear pact with world powers, which came in return for curbs on Tehran's nuclear activities.

Fulfilling Rouhani's campaign pledge in 2013 to remove the nuclear sanctions, the deal settled a 12-year dispute with western powers accusing Iran of having secret plans to build nukes.

Despite the lifting of most sanctions under the pact, the remaining US non-nuclear sanctions are still hampering trade deals and banking ties with other countries.

Rouhani did not explain on Friday how he would materialize the ground-breaking promise.

A look at the US allegations made to maintain the bans show how difficult lifting them would be: human rights abuses, missile capabilities, terrorism sponsoring and support for the Syrian government, among other pretexts.

They also include the US primary sanctions that were applied following the 1979 takeover of the US embassy in Tehran.

The other obstacle that makes it a tall order to lift non-nuclear sanctions is that the White House is occupied by someone who has called the nuclear pact "the worst deal ever negotiated", namely US President Donald Trump.

Trump has vowed to take a tougher line on Iran than his predecessor Barack Obama.

The Trump administration has imposed new sanctions on dozens of individuals and entities linked to Iran's ballistic missile program.

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