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Iran Eyes Return To SWIFT System

Iran says it expects to rejoin the international electronic-payment system known as SWIFT shortly after economic sanctions against Tehran are lifted.

Iranian Industry Minister Mohammad Reza Nematzadeh said on the sidelines of a business conference in Vienna on July 24 that foreign banks would gradually be able to reestablish links with Iranian banks as the sanctions are removed, which he expects to occur in less than three months.

The sanctions against Iran had barred it from using SWIFT, crippling its ability to make international bank transfers crucial to foreign trade.

Six world powers and Iran signed a July 14 agreement after years of negotiations that would curb Iran's controversial nuclear program in exchange for a gradual easing of the sanctions.

Nematzadeh said the lack of sanctions would also make it easier for foreign firms to take part in the privatization of state-run companies in Iran.

But he stressed that Iran's national oil company, NIOC, would not be sold and the government would retain up to 20 percent in companies in "important industries."

Nematzadeh added that Iran's foreign reserves total between $115 billion and $125 billion, a rare disclosure from Iranian officials about the country's reserves.

UN inspectors must first confirm Tehran is complying with provisions to reduce its nuclear activity before sanctions would be lifted later this year.

Based on reporting by Reuters and AP