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Iran 'not open for business': Washington

WASHINGTON--U.S. officials declared Tuesday that Iran is “not open for business” and vowed to scrutinize the companies heading to the Islamic republic since it entered a temporary nuclear agreement.

Testifying before skeptical lawmakers, President Barack Obama's administration detailed initial sanctions relief to Iran, including the transfer of US$550 million in frozen oil revenues as part of a six-month nuclear agreement.

But Wendy Sherman, who is spearheading the diplomacy with Tehran, said that the United States was warning the growing number of business delegations heading to Iran that sweeping sanctions remained in place.

“Tehran is not open for business because our sanctions relief is quite temporary, quite limited and quite targeted,” Sherman, the under secretary of state for political affairs, told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

“It doesn't matter whether the countries are friend or foe — if they evade our sanctions, we will sanction them,” she said.

Sherman said that Secretary of State John Kerry spoke to Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius about a major French delegation that is visiting Tehran, telling him that the visit — while from the private sector — was “not helpful” in sending the message that “it is not business as usual.”

The delegation from the French employers' union Medef is the largest from Europe since the November nuclear accord and includes representatives from major companies such as Total, Lafarge and Peugeot.

Addressing the delegation, Deputy Oil Minister Ali Majedi encouraged foreign companies to return.

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