Iran official accuses US, EU of not honoring nuclear deal
WASHINGTON (AP) — A top Iranian official on Friday accused the U.S. and the European Union of failing to honor last year's nuclear deal by keeping Iran locked out of the international financial system.
The White House insisted Washington is committed to fulfilling its part of the accord and said Tehran wants concessions that weren't part of the deal.
The historic accord took effect in January and envisions Iran curtailing its nuclear program in exchange for billions of dollars in sanctions relief.
The head of Iran's central bank, Valiollah Seif, said in a speech Friday that Iran's counterparts have not lived up to their commitments and that "almost nothing" has been done as part of the deal.
"In general, we are not able to use our frozen funds abroad," Seif said at the Council on Foreign Relations through a translator. Seif was in Washington to attend the spring meetings of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. "They (Iran's partners) have not honored their obligations."
He urged Washington to do more to encourage international banks to do business with Iran and ease Iran's access to U.S. financial institutions. Otherwise, he said, the deal "breaks up on its own terms." He did not elaborate.
White House press secretary Josh Earnest insisted Friday that Western nations are doing their part. "The United States, along with the rest of the international community, is committed to living up to our end of the bargain," he told reporters.
Earnest said that the agreement does not involve giving Iran access to the U.S. financial system and that such a move is not being contemplated.
State Department spokesman John Kirby said the U.S. already has fulfilled its part of the nuclear deal.
"There is no need to do more, when we have met all of our commitments," Kirby told reporters later in the day.
The nuclear pact provided Iran sanctions relief for curtailing programs that could lead to nuclear weapons. But the Iranians say they haven't benefited to the extent envisioned under the deal because of other U.S. measures linked to human rights, terrorism and missile development concerns.
The Obama administration has been toying with the idea of easing financial restrictions that prevent U.S. dollars from being used in transactions that enable business with Iran, but it is facing fierce resistance from lawmakers who believe that Tehran would be getting more than it deserves from the nuclear accord.
Seif reiterated that Teheran's nuclear program is meant strictly for peaceful purposes, but he argued for Iran's right to defend itself, including by developing missiles, saying the country is located in a highly volatile region where the Islamic State group is on the rise.
"Based on experience, based on our history, Iran has come to the conclusion that we should rely on our own capabilities, those capabilities that can be used for defensive purposes, defense against any kind of invasion," Seif said.
Asked how much Iran has spent on its nuclear efforts, Seif declined to provide a figure but said the program has been successful. "Definitely we have done some investments, and of course it has been worth the effort," he said.
Associated Press writers Josh Lederman and Brad Klapper contributed to this report.