WASHINGTON -- U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Thursday attempted to reassure Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that key sanctions would remain in force against Iran's disputed nuclear program under an interim accord negotiated by Tehran and six other governments.
The agreement, unveiled in Geneva last month, commits Iran to enact a range of six-month curbs on atomic activities that could support development of a nuclear-arms capability. In exchange, Washington and five other governments are expected to grant the Middle Eastern nation up to $7 billion in relief from punitive economic measures, in part by lifting certain restrictions on Iranian petroleum revenues held in overseas accounts.
After meeting privately with Kerry on Thursday, Netanyahu said he has "expressed ... concern since Geneva that the sanctions would begin to unravel" as a result of the half-year agreement.
"Steps must be taken to prevent further erosions of sanctions," the Israeli leader said, according to a State Department transcript of his comments.
Kerry countered that the most critical Iran penalties are still in effect. The Persian Gulf power is subject to punitive language in four U.N. Security Council resolutions, as well as numerous measures enacted by the United States, the European Union and others.
"We say to any country that contemplates moving ahead of sanctions, don't, because those sanctions will continue to be enforced," the top U.S. diplomat said. "The fundamental sanctions regime of oil and banking remains absolutely in place."
He added that the Obama administration would bolster its implementation of existing sanctions through the Treasury Department and other federal agencies.
Meanwhile, Iran's top oil official appeared to voiced hope on Wednesday that his nation would expand its trade with the United States and European powers, the Wall Street Journal reported.
"We have no limitations for U.S. companies," Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh said. He added that he would like to see his country do business with the U.S. energy giants Chevron and ConocoPhillips.
This article was published in Global Security Newswire, which is produced independently by National Journal Group under contract with the Nuclear Threat Initiative. NTI is a nonprofit, nonpartisan group working to reduce global threats from nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons.