By Rohollah Faghihi for Al-Monitor. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iran Business News.
Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif (pictured) traveled to France and the Netherlands on June 20-24 as part of his increasingly intense engagement with Europe, which will probably continue in the year remaining of President Hassan Rouhani’s current term.
Prior to his visits to France and the Netherlands — Zarif’s third such tour of Europe since taking office in August 2013 — the Iranian foreign minister visited Italy, Poland, Finland, Sweden and Latvia. But what are the reasons for Zarif’s intensified engagement with Europe?
The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) was formally implemented on Jan. 16. As such, Iran and the six world powers it negotiated the nuclear deal with — China, France, Russia, United Kingdom, United States and Germany — took steps to live up to their commitments.
For its part, Iran has been committed to the JCPOA, which the International Atomic Energy Agency has verified. Yet, implementation issues on the part of the six world powers have emerged. For instance, Western unilateral sanctions that target Iranian banks — causing serious problems for Iran — have been formally lifted. Yet, major banks are still hesitant to engage with Iran.
Indeed, many in Tehran now believe the United States is stalling the effective implementation of the nuclear deal due to its still contentious relationship with Iran. US Secretary of State John Kerry has said repeatedly in meetings with Zarif that he has given reassurances to top European banks that they can resume ties with Iran as long as they conduct “legitimate business” and proper due diligence.