Iran says West not sticking to commitments on easing sanctions

Iran's head of Atomic Energy Organisation Ali Akbar Salehi (L) talks with the Head of the Central Bank of Iran, Valiollah Seif, as they arrive for a press conference of Iranian President on January 17, 2016 (AFP Photo/Atta Kenare) (AFP/File)

Washington (AFP) - The international community is not sticking to its promises to lift sanctions on Iran in the wake of the nuclear deal, the country's central bank governor said Friday.

Valiollah Seif said the US-led world powers involved in the negotiations leading up to the agreement continue to set obstacles to its economic revival.

"The impact that we were expecting to get is not what we see, at least on a tangible basis," he told a forum at the Council of Foreign Relations in Washington.

"We still don't have normal conditions, we're still in abnormal conditions."

Tehran and the major powers led by the United States agreed in July 2015 to lift sanctions that had locked down much of the Iranian economy for years in exchange for limits on Tehran's nuclear program.

The move allowed the country to resume a high level of oil exports and opened up more trade opportunities. But with the US still maintaining some sanctions on the country, its access to the global financial system remains limited.

Seif, in the US capital for the IMF-World Bank spring meetings, pointed to the reticence of European banks to engage with the country in fear of falling afoul of US sanctions.

"They have been asked not to work with Iranian banks, and they're afraid," he said.

"It's because of the heavy penalties that have been imposed upon then."

A number of leading European banks have been heavily fined by US authorities in recent years for doing banking business with countries under sanctions, including Iran.

France's BNP Paribas had to pay $9 billion in 2014 for breaking such sanctions.

The United States continues to keep Tehran locked out of its banking system, which makes it hard for anyone doing large transactions with the country in US dollars.

"We want both sides of the agreement, especially the US, to take the required measures to remove the obstacles," Seif said.