Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif urges Europe and the US to take “practical steps” towards lifting banking and economic sanctions on Iran under last year’s nuclear agreement between Tehran and the P5+1 group of countries.
“We have not fully achieved what we must have, and more measures need to be carried out by the US,” Zarif said in a joint press conference with New Zealand’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Murray McCully in Tehran on Saturday.
Iran and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council – the United States, France, Britain, China and Russia – plus Germany signed a nuclear agreement, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), on July 14, 2015 following two and a half years of intensive talks.
Under the deal, which took effect on January 16, all nuclear-related sanctions imposed on Iran by the European Union, the Security Council and the US would be lifted. Iran has, in return, put some limitations on its nuclear activities.
Zarif added that massive presence of economic enterprises and political delegations from different countries in Iran indicate the international community’s keenness to cooperate with Iran.
He noted that the US hostile policies and sanctions imposed on Iran by Washington and the international community against Iran have created obstacles in the way of the Islamic Republic’s economic cooperation with other countries over the past decade.
“A portion of these sanctions have been officially lifted as part of their commitments under the JCPOA but we believe that practical measures must be adopted along with statements,” the Iranian foreign minister said.
Zarif’s remarks came as major European banks are still refraining from handling Iranian payments four months after the lifting of sanctions on Tehran.
On Thursday, US Secretary of State John Kerry met with EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini and foreign ministers from France, Germany and the UK in Brussels where they pledged to encourage companies to resume trade with Iran.
In a statement on the same day, the US, Britain, France and Germany said they were exploring various areas of cooperation with Iran, including the use of exports credits to boost trade, project financing and investment in Iran.
Zarif also said he held talks with his New Zealand’s counterpart on banking facilities so that banks and financial institutions would be able to support cooperation among the two countries’ tradesmen.
The Iranian minister added that they also discussed ways to expand bilateral scientific and academic cooperation.
“We also held talks [with New Zealand] as a member of the United Nations Security Council on the latest developments in the region and the fight against extremism and terrorism, and we hope we will contribute to settlement of differences in the region,” Zarif said.
The New Zealand foreign minister arrived in Tehran on Saturday on a two-day official visit to hold talks with senior Iranian officials and sign agreements for enhanced economic cooperation.