By Arun Kumar
Washington: Even as it acknowledged difficulties faced by countries like India in reducing oil purchases from Iran, the US said it would keep pressing them to enforce sanctions despite the landmark US-Iran nuclear deal.
“We’ve been very clear that as we negotiated the first-step agreement and as we negotiate the final agreement, the architecture, the core architecture of Iran’s oil and banking sector sanctions remain in place,” State Department spokesperson Marie Harf told reporters Friday.
The Nov 24 “initial, six-month” deal between Iran and six world powers led by the US freezes Iran’s nuclear development programme in exchange for lifting some sanctions while a “comprehensive solution” is worked out.
“We have done a lot of diplomatic hard work – very hard diplomatic, tireless work, again, with countries like India, Japan, South Korea, others – to put in place these sanctions on Iran’s oil,” she said.
“We know it’s not easy for these countries, but we all have done it because it’s in the world’s interest to put pressure on Iran to get them to a diplomatic solution to their nuclear programme,” Harf said.
“So we’re going to keep talking to these countries,” she said. “We are going to keep enforcing a majority of the sanctions and we’ll keep having these conversations.”
The spokesperson said the US “would actively fight any attempts to use this first-step agreement as a way for people suddenly to somehow try to evade sanctions in any way.”
In response to another question, Harf said the US also talked to Israelis all the time about their shared concerns over Iran’s nuclear programme.
Asked to comment on Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s reported remarks about Kashmir, the spokesperson repeated Washington’s long-held position that it was a matter between the two countries.
“We’ve been very clear that this is an issue we think needs to be discussed directly between Pakistan and India,” Harf said.
On India-Pakistan relations, she said: “We’ve always said that we believe they need to keep building a better relationship, they need to work together on these issues, and certainly we hope they will do so.”