European Union and Iran 'make good start' on salvaging nuclear deal

Hugh Fox
May 16, 2018

EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini insisted European powers were serious about salvaging the deal.

Zarif arrived in Moscow following similar negotiations in China and will later head to Brussels for talks with the EU foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, and his counterparts from the three European parties.

The European powers share Trump's concerns but say that the nuclear deal is the best way to prevent Tehran from obtaining an atomic weapon.

He will also meet with the foreign ministers of Germany, France and the United Kingdom in Brussels on Tuesday to discuss the future of the deal.

President Donald Trump announced last week his country's withdrawal from the "defective" Iran nuclear deal, which saw Tehran build its army and increase defense spending by 40 percent since 2015.

While the focus of Tuesday's talks was on salvaging the nuclear deal, European Union diplomats said they needed some time to clarify the USA policy on sanctions, but also generally towards Iran.

Mogherini said it had been a "very productive" meeting but indicated it was the start of a long road.

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On Wednesday, the European Commission will meanwhile discuss the EU's 1990s-era blocking sanctions, Mogherini said.

"We are working on the measures that we can start to put in place, and we will look at the content of that", she said.

Earlier in the day, the press Secretary of the Iranian government, Mohammad Bagher Nobakht, said that his country will resume uranium enrichment if the way is found to preserve a "nuclear deal".

"With such destructive measures, the American government is trying to influence the will and decision of the remaining signatories of the JCPOA (nuclear agreement)", Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qasemi was quoted as saying by Fars news agency.

Russian media further cited Zarif as saying that Tehran and Moscow would do their utmost to keep the Iran deal in place less than a week after US President Donald Trump announced Washington's withdrawal from the JCPOA despite earlier global warnings and pleas for the White House not to attack yet another worldwide agreement.

Trump cast the agreement into jeopardy a week ago when he abruptly pulled the USA out.

"We together regretted the withdrawal of the United States", Mogherini said, speaking on behalf of Iran's Javad Zarif, France's Jean-Yves Le Drian, Germany's Heiko Maas and the U.K.'s Boris Johnson. Following Trump's decision, the Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control sanctioned nine Iranian individuals and entities including those with links to Iran's Revolutionary Guard.

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She added: "Britain, France and Germany were of the opinion that the agreement against Iran's nuclear armament is an agreement that certainly has weaknesses, but an agreement we should stand by".

But European businesses and Iranian moderates need relatively swift assurances that trade will be protected.

"We have to be realistic about the electrified rail, the live wire of American extraterritoriality and how [it] can serve as a deterrent to business", Johnson told reporters in Brussels.

"I want to stress we are under no illusion about the stuff Iran gets up to in the region, in the Middle East".

However, on Tuesday the United States hit Iran's central bank governor with sanctions.

German exports to Iran totalled almost 3 billion euros in 2017, while French exports soared from 562 million euros in 2015 to 1.5 billion in 2017 and oil giant Total has pledged to invest some $5 billion in the South Pars gas field.

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