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Obama Says U.S. Will Address Some Iranian Concerns Over Sanctions

U.S. President Barack Obama opens the first opening plenary session of the Nuclear Security Summit in Washington on April 1, 2016.

U.S. President Barack Obama said that his administration is preparing to address concerns that Iran is not getting the full benefit of sanctions relief under its nuclear accord with world powers.

At a press conference following a Washington Nuclear Security Summit with world leaders on April 1, Obama said because Iran has been keeping its side of the deal, the United States will do what it can to ensure Tehran experiences promised relief from nuclear-related sanctions.

"Some of the concerns that Iran has expressed, we are going to work with them to address," he said.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew and his counterparts in Europe "will be clarifying for companies what transactions with Iran are in fact allowed" under the nuclear agreement so businesses do not risk running afoul of remaining U.S. restrictions on transactions with Iran, he said.

Despite the lifting of most global economic sanctions on Iran in January, many restrictions remain in place in the United States because of Iran's status as a state sponsor of terrorism, its repeated testing of ballistic missiles that could carry nuclear warheads, and violations of human rights.

Obama did not provide details at his press conference, but he stressed that some of the disappointment Iran is experiencing with sanctions relief thus far is due to Tehran's own misbehavior, not the remaining U.S. sanctions.

"Iran so far has followed the letter of the agreement, but the spirit of the agreement involves Iran also sending signals to the world community and businesses that it is not going to be engaging in a range of provocative actions that might scare businesses off," Obama said.

"When they launch ballistic missiles with slogans calling for the destruction of Israel, that makes businesses nervous," he said.

"Iran has to understand that businesses want to go where they feel safe," he said. "There is a geopolitical risk that is heightened when Iran ships missiles to Hizballah and threatens Israel."

Iran also "faces the challenge that companies have not been doing business there for a long time, and they have to get comfortable" with the idea of going back into Iran, he said.

"It is going to take time over the next several months for companies and their legal departments to feel confident...there may not be risks of liability if they do business with Iran."

Earlier in the day, Obama cautioned that "it will take time for Iran to reintegrate into the global economy, but Iran is already beginning to see the benefit of [the nuclear] deal."

With reporting by Reuters, AFP, AP, and dpa
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