Iran has assets of $29 billion in overseas banks that could be unlocked under a nuclear deal, far less than reported estimates of over $100 billion, the country's central bank chief said. Valiollah Seif told state television late Saturday that the holdings comprised $23 billion in foreign exchange belonging to the bank and another $6 billion of the Iranian government's money.
The remarks from Seif, central bank governor since September 2013, suggest that under the nuclear deal struck on July 14, Iran stands to regain far less in funds than has been stated.
Seif said the figure of more than $100 billion included "$35 billion already allocated for oil projects and $22 billion held on security deposit guarantee in Chinese banks" for buying goods. On Friday, Iranian Minister of Industry, Mines and Trade Mohammad Reza Nematzadeh said that the Iranian central bank's foreign reserves, obtained from the country's oil and gas exports, are around $90 billion to $100 billion. The National Development Fund of Iran, which was founded in 2011 and receives a portion of oil and gas export proceeds, has around $20 billion to $25 billion. In addition, some Iranian government companies and organizations have foreign holdings of about $5 billion to $10 billion, Nematzadeh said. Opponents of the final nuclear deal agreed in Vienna, notably Israel, have cited figures of $100 billion and more, saying access to such large sums would allow Iran to boost its support for militant groups across the Middle East. Tehran has said the money is needed for domestic investment in oil and gas, petrochemicals and other key industries. Seif appealed for more foreign interest in Iran's damaged economy. "We can absorb between $200 billion to $300 billion in foreign investment," he said.