LONDON - A senior Iranian official has warned that if Iran does not benefit from increased trade following the nuclear deal with the West, the consequences for his nation would be grave.
Speaking at London’s Royal United Services Institute in London following a meeting with the British prime minister, the Iranian President’s Chief of Staff Mohammed Nahavandian was frank about the reason for his visit.
“After this nuclear deal, there is a real, serious opening up in Iran for economic relations. If it does not happen, and tangible results do not follow, the damage will be out of any calculation,” he said.
The United States maintains sanctions against Tehran unrelated to its nuclear program. New sanctions were imposed following Iranian ballistic missile tests last year, which the U.S. and other western nations view as violating UN resolutions.
But Nahavandian says fear of those unilateral sanctions is preventing banks outside the United States from opening up to Iran.
“Non-U.S. banks should not be limited in any kind of banking transactions with Iranian banks,” he said.
The conflicts in Syria and Yemen have fueled tensions between Iran — the main Shia power in the region — and Sunni-led Saudi Arabia.
Nahavandian denied there was a Shia-Sunni conflict underway — but leveled thinly veiled accusations at Riyadh.
“When it comes to Salafi thinking, which is unfortunately funded by billions of dollars, then that creates, as far as South Africa, the kind of groups who are not accepting anyone else. That kind of thinking is not tolerable. That’s not Sunni versus Shia, no,” he said.
Nahavandian said Iran supports the Syrian peace talks taking place in Geneva. But he presented a one-sided view, says Malcolm Chalmers of the Royal United Services Institute.
“No mention of course of the role of Shia militia, or Hezbollah, or all the other things which the Iranian Revolutionary Guard is involved in in Syria and elsewhere,” he said.
The speech may have presented only Tehran’s viewpoint — but observers say it’s another indication of Iran’s efforts to shape a different future in its relations with the West.