VIENNA, Sept 26 (Reuters) - The United States has kept its side of a landmark nuclear deal with Iran, and Tehran has no reason to complain that Washington has not done enough on lifting sanctions against it, U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz said on Monday.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said last week that Washington had not fulfilled its obligations under the agreement, which places restrictions on Tehran’s nuclear activities in exchange for the lifting of sanctions.
Major foreign banks are wary of doing business with Iran because of fears that they would violate restrictions on U.S. banks, which are still banned from doing business with Iran because of core U.S. sanctions that remain in force.
“The sanctions that were to be relieved have been relieved. That’s what was the commitment. That has happened.” Moniz told a news conference on the sidelines of an annual meeting of the U.N. nuclear watchdog’s member states.
“The consequences of that in terms of how many companies make foreign direct investments in Iran is not for the government to decide, that’s for companies to decide,” he said.
Iran’s top envoy to the meeting, Ali Akbar Salehi, however, repeated his government’s complaint on Monday.
“Expectations regarding comprehensive and expeditious removal of all sanctions as stipulated in the JCPOA have yet to be met,” Salehi said in a speech to the meeting, using the deal’s full name, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.
Moniz said Washington had gone beyond its obligations under the deal, and senior U.S. officials had informed European banks of what the lifting of sanctions meant for them, but so far only small and medium-size banks had done business with Iran.
“Banks are going to have to have more clarity, going to have to have more business confidence, which will take time,” he said.
Iran is, however, exporting oil at roughly the same level as before the sanctions were imposed, providing “a considerable additional cash flow”, he said.
Rouhani said last week the U.S. approach to sanctions in recent months was “flawed” and “should be rectified forthwith”.
What steps Iran intends to take if its demands are not met remains unclear but Salehi, who heads the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, said the deal’s future depended on it.
“Reciprocal and full implementation of the commitments by the five plus one is the crucial foundation of the JCPOA and the fundamental part of the agreement for its durability,” he said, referring to the six countries that struck the deal with Iran. (Reporting by Francois Murphy)