May 24, 2018

German leader argues for preserving Iran deal

17 May 2018, 12:51 | Marta Robbins

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Iran's foreign minister said he had a "very good and constructive" meeting with the EU's foreign policy chief, as the bloc seeks to save the nuclear agreement following last week's United States withdrawal.

Iran's foreign minister says talks with the EU's foreign policy chief in Brussels were "constructive".

Zarif was returning from a diplomatic tour of the remaining parties to the 2015 nuclear agreement - Britain, France, Germany, China and Russian Federation - following the USA decision last week to pull out.

The regulation, which has never been applied, would need to be modernised to take into account the evolution in the business environment, and U.S. sanctions related to Iran would need to be added to the list of issues.

EU foreign-policy chief Federica Mogherini said on May 15 that European commissioners will first discuss whether the EU's 1990s-era sanctions-blocking measures can be used to protect European business interests in Iran before leaders at the summit take up the matter. Mr. Trump was right to withdraw from it, for it did not accomplish what the U.S. and the West should have hoped to achieve by engaging in such an agreement in the first place. But with few exceptions (Boeing is the one of significance), these sanctions don't really affect USA businesses.

Meanwhile, the Zarif and his European interlocuters "regretted the withdrawal of the United States from the Iran nuclear deal and recognized that the lifting of nuclear-related sanctions and the normalization of trade and economic relations with Iran constitute essential parts of the agreement", said the website.

"Let's not fool ourselves that are that dozens of things we can do", said a second senior European diplomat.

The European Union together with Britain, France and Germany support further implementation of the nuclear agreement with Iran, despite the United States decision to withdraw from it.

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The truth is that the JCPOA did nothing to prevent Iran from continuing to meddle in the Middle East. Tehran's "proxy wars" continue unabated because of its desire to flex its muscles and oppose Israel and Saudi Arabia. "We have no illusions about Iran's disruptive behaviour, but we think we can tackle those in other ways", Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said.

Mogherini agreed at the end of a long day of diplomatic meetings.

"So, we are not talking about annexes or modifications of the agreement at all; we are talking about setting up concrete measures, concrete practical solutions to address these issues, which could take different forms depending on the different issues covered - but something very concrete, very practical and hopefully very operational and very quickly", the European Union top diplomat went on.

Earlier, in response to Trump's withdrawal from the deal, France, the United Kingdom and Germany pledged their commitment to the Iran nuclear accord.

"We must expect more such moves by the Americans".

Whether the US government would really follow through on its threat to punish Asian and European companies doing business in Iran is unclear.

Iran has described the sanctions as illegal and has warned that if talks to rescue the accord fail, it would ramp up its nuclear programme to a level more advanced than before.

But the measures have never been used and may be hard to enforce, while European Union companies could still face asset seizures, fines and possibly criminal charges in the United States.

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