Europe, Iran seek to save nuclear deal after USA pullout

16 May, 2018, 15:14 | Author: Orlando Hughes
  • French Foreign Affairs Minister Jean Yves Le Drian leaves the Elysee Presidential palace in Paris

Zarif held a "good and constructive" meeting with European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, adding that talks with the three European countries would continue in the next two weeks.

Several Irish firms began trading with Iran, the Middle East's second-largest economy, in the wake of the 2015 deal to control Tehran's nuclear ambitions, which led to the lifting of long-standing worldwide sanctions and the resumption of formal trade ties with several European countries.

"The Europeans, after the withdrawal of the USA from the deal, have found themselves forced to save the Joint Cooperative Plan of Action themselves", he added.

European firms, especially those from France and Germany, rushed to invest in Iran following the 2015 agreement, under which Tehran agreed to freeze its nuclear program in return for the repeal of punishing worldwide sanctions.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said the meeting had been a good start, but he wanted to see guarantees materialize.

When pressed on the matter further, he said, "I think the Europeans will see that it's in their interest ultimately to come along with us".

Mogherini will host a consultation of German, French, and British foreign ministers on May 15 to discuss the future of the Iran accord and the US' latest threat.

"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.

"I would like our debate to reconfirm without any doubt that as long as Iran respects the provisions of the deal, the European Union will also respect it", Tusk said.

In the CNN interview, Bolton did not respond directly when asked whether Trump might seek "regime change" in Iran, or whether the United States military would be ordered to make a pre-emptive strike against any Iranian nuclear facility.

Workers inspect a Peugeot 508 at the Iran Khodro car factory in Tehran Iran Wednesday
Workers inspect a Peugeot 508 at the Iran Khodro car factory in Tehran Iran Wednesday

Russian President Vladimir Putin has already spoken with Germany's Angela Merkel and Turkey's Recep Tayyip Erdogan about the efforts, after voicing his "deep concern" over US President's Donald Trump's decision.

The deal between Iran and six world powers lifted most worldwide sanctions in 2016 in return for Tehran curbing its nuclear programme, under strict surveillance by the United Nations, to stockpile enriched uranium for a possible atomic bomb.

And on Monday Putin met Yukiya Amano, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, telling him that Russian Federation was "ready to continue to uphold the Iran nuclear deal despite the withdrawal of the United States".

"One of the questions that we need to ask the Americans is whether their final objective is to make the Iranians yield on its nuclear programme or to get rid of the regime", said a senior French official, acknowledging that Paris was concerned by the ideological shift in Washington since John Bolton was appointed White House national security adviser.

Another possibility raised by Le Maire is a European version of U.S. Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), which administers and enforces economic and trade sanctions.

She didn't specify which measures could be put in place to bypass U.S. sanctions, and protect European companies from potential punitive actions, repeating on several occasions that the technical details will be presented in a matter of weeks.

"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.

Senior EU politicians recently threatened that the 28-nation bloc is ready to challenge any move that may harm their businesses in the Iranian market at the World Trade Organization (WTO).

German exports to Iran totalled almost €3bn (£2.6bn) in 2017, while French exports soared from €562m in 2015 to €1.5bn in 2017.

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