Iran's Supreme Leader Accuses U.S. of Lifting Sanctions Only 'On Paper'

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said that the United States has been scaring businesses away from Tehran.

Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei poses before a speech marking the Iranian New Year, in this handout photo released by the Iranian Supreme Leader website on March 20, 2016.

REUTERS - Iran's Supreme Leader accused the United States on Wednesday of scaring businesses away from Tehran and undermining a deal to lift international sanctions.

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei told hundreds of workers that a global deal, signed between Iran and world powers, had lifted financial sanctions, but U.S. obstruction was stopping Iran getting the full economic fruits of the agreement.

"On paper the United States allows foreign banks to deal with Iran, but in practice they create Iranophobia so no one does business with Iran," he said in quotes from the speech posted on his website. Iran has repeatedly urged Washington to do more to remove obstacles to the banking sector, in the spirit of the July deal with the United States, the European Union, Russia and China to lift most sanctions on Iran in return for curbs on its nuclear programme. But some U.S. sanctions remain, and U.S. banks remain prohibited from doing business with Iran directly or indirectly because Washington still accuses Tehran of supporting terrorism and human rights abuses.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry told the Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in New York on Saturday that Washington was not trying to stop Iran dealing with banks outside the United States."There are now opportunities for foreign banks to do business with Iran ... Unfortunately there seems to be some confusion among some foreign banks and we want to try and clarify that," Kerry said.