August 30, 2016
Trying to ease complications over the July 2015 nuclear deal, Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has asked the US for a “letter of comfort” to remove financial restrictions on Tehran.
Concluding a tour of Latin America on Friday, Zarif said the Islamic Republic is ready for the letter from the US Treasury “so that foreign banks can cooperate with Iran”.
Following January’s implementation of the nuclear agreement, the European Union lifted its sanctions on Tehran. However, US action has been limited: months are needed for the removal of some measures, others have been imposed because of Iran’s ballistic missile testing, and Washington has barred other steps such as Iranian access to the American financial system.
Iranian hardliners and the Supreme Leader have used the situation to put pressure on the Rouhani Government. Ayatollah Khamenei has chided the President over weakness in dealing with the Americans and has rebuked Rouhani over his declarations of plans for economic recovery.
In a meeting in London this spring, US Secretary of State John Kerry encouraged European banks and companies to renew business with Iran. However, the firms have been reluctant to do so, fearing that they could be punished under American legislation.
While appealing to the US Government for assistance, Zarif showed a firm line on other matters, criticizing Kerry over statements about Iran’s role in the Yemeni civil war.
The Foreign Minister said comments by Kerry, claiming Iranian weapons supplies to the Houthi movement that has taken power in Yemen’s capital Sana’a, “ignore reality”:
By such statements, the US administration has implicated itself in the Saudi regime’s war crimes and inhumane and infanticidal atrocities against the innocent and oppressed Yemeni people. It should undoubtedly accept responsibility and be answerable for all the inhuman crimes.
Zarif pointed at Saudi Arabia as the threat, saying Riyadh had commmitted “war crimes” in its intervention in the war from March 2015.