* Implementation of Iran nuclear agreement to start on
* Iran to receive some sanctions easing for curbing nuclear
* U.S. says too early for businesses to return to Iran
By Fredrik Dahl
VIENNA, Jan 17 Iran has about $100 billion in
foreign exchange assets around the world, of which it will be
able to draw $4.2 billion under last year's nuclear agreement
with six world powers, a senior U.S. administration official
said on Friday.
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the
money and assets were held in various countries and that a
significant proportion was Iran's oil revenue. Financial and
other sanctions have meant that Tehran has not had free access
to spend it.
Under the Nov. 24, six-month accord between Iran and the
major powers, Tehran will receive limited sanctions relief,
which the U.S. estimates to be worth about $7 billion, in return
for curbing its disputed nuclear programme.
Of this amount, $4.2 billion is in the form of access to
currently blocked Iranian revenue held abroad.
The U.S. official said Iran would identify from where it
wants to take the funds and that the Western authorities would
facilitate their transfer in a series of instalments during the
next half year, depending on the Islamic Republic carrying out
its part of the deal.
The interim accord - meant to buy time for negotiations on a
final settlement of the decade-old nuclear dispute - also pauses
Western efforts to further cut Iran's oil exports, which
Washington says have plunged by around 60 percent to 1 million
barrels per day since early 2012.
The U.S. official made clear that the volume would not
increase if the oil price were to fall during the six-month
agreement, the implementation of which is due to start on
Japan, South Korea, China, India, Taiwan, and Turkey are
still importing Iranian oil, and the official said that if
another country started purchasing crude from Tehran it would
likely violate U.S. law.
US WARNS AGAINST IRAN BUSINESS
The official reiterated U.S. concerns about a recent Reuters
report that Iran and Russia are negotiating an oil-for-goods
swap worth $1.5 billion a month. Such a deal would significantly
boost Iran's oil exports.
The administration official also underlined the U.S. view
that businesses should not rush to return to Iran, saying the
sanctions relief under the Geneva agreement was both limited and
European companies are sizing up the potential of an end to
the economic isolation of Iran, attracted by an urgent need to
overhaul its creaking infrastructure, a young population of 76
million and major oil and gas reserves.
Reuters reported this week that Belgian chemical firm
Tessenderlo will ship fertiliser to Iran within weeks
as the easing of Western financial sanctions has helped Tehran
complete its first potash tender purchase in two years.
Sanctions imposed by the United States and its allies over
Iran's controversial nuclear programme did not ban the supplying
of fertiliser to the country.
But measures that have isolated Tehran from most of the
global banking system have significantly limited its trading,
shipping and payments over the past two years.
The administration official said it would not be good
business to begin re-engaging with Iran now, because sanctions
still made it very difficult to carry out transactions with the
country and receive or make payments.
Iran rejects Western allegations that it has been seeking to
develop the capability to make nuclear bombs.
But last year's election of a relative moderate, Hassan
Rouhani, as Iranian president paved the way for a diplomatic
thaw with the West, which led to the Geneva accord.