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Lifting Sanctions on Iran after Nuclear Deal “Mere Words on Paper”: Zarif | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif / Reuters

Iranian Foreign Affairs Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif said that Washington’s decision to lift sanctions on his country was “only on paper”, calling on Barack Obama’s Administration to deploy more efforts in order to encourage banks to work with Iran.

During a joint news conference in Norway with European Union Foreign Policy Chief Federica Mogherini, Zarif said he believed the United States has lifted all sanctions only on paper, adding that “psychological remnants” were still hindering business relations to grow with Iran.

“On the banks, I believe it is important for everybody to realize that an agreement will be sustainable if everybody feels they are making gains from the agreement,” Zarif said. “Its implementation must also be a win-win implementation so that everybody feels there are benefits, there are dividends,” he added.

Zarif arrived in Norway on Monday to meet senior Norwegian officials. He will meet with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry to discuss “obstacles” facing the nuclear deal.

Mogherini said the European Union was engaging with businesses and banks to encourage them to do business in Iran following the signing of the nuclear deal.

“In the first four months this year, trade between the European Union and Iran increased by 22 percent,” she said. “We are very actively engaging with the business community and the banks in Europe and elsewhere to encourage engaging in Iran,” she added.

International sanctions on Iran were partially alleviated in January 2016 in return for limitations of the country’s nuclear activity. However, European banks are still cautious about dealing with Iran due to concerns over U.S. imposing sanctions on the Persian state.

On the Syrian crisis, Zarif said only diplomacy and not military approaches can settle the five-year-old crisis. “The Syrian crisis can be only resolved politically, and a solution to the Syrian crisis will not be achieved through military means,” he said on the sidelines of a conflict-resolution seminar in Oslo.

Zarif did not comment on the Iranian military forces’ involvement in the Syrian conflict.

“While there is one military dimension to the Syrian crisis, it is only through political rather than military solutions that it can be halted,” Zarif was quoted as saying.

In Tehran, Iranian government spokesperson Mohammed Baqer Nobakht said that the government was dealing with corruption cases with seriousness, pointing out at the salary scandal that erupted earlier this month.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani had signed a decree to expel corrupt officials involved in a recent scandal over eccentrically high salaries.

Nobakht warned that focusing on financial corruption in government institutions would have negative repercussions on business with international investors, adding that the corruption scandal was overstated.