Thursday, 24 May, 2018


German leader argues for preserving Iran deal

Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif leaves the EU council headquarters in Brussels Belgium Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif leaves the EU council headquarters in Brussels Thomson Reuters
Bennie Garza | 16 May, 2018, 14:49

Major European powers are seeking to keep Iran in a landmark worldwide nuclear agreement even after President Donald Trump pulled the U.S. out of the pact and promised tough economic sanctions against the Islamic Republic.

Bolton said Europe was still digesting Trump's move last week.

"I'm hopeful in the days and weeks ahead we can come up with a deal that really works, that really protects the world from Iranian bad behaviour, not just their nuclear programme, but their missiles and their malign behaviour as well", Pompeo told Fox News Sunday.

Germany has acknowledged it could be hard to protect companies doing business with Iran as the USA tightens the screws. Among the adversely affected are European firms, whose dealings with Iran jacked up the value of EU-Iran trade from $9.2 billion in 2015 to $25 billion in 2017.

Germany - along with France and Britain - has said it remains committed to the nuclear deal. But the European Union, in particular, must step up to take responsibility for ensuring that the JCPOA survives. Ahead of the meeting Iran's top diplomat has spoken about the JCPOA after the USA withdrawal from the deal.

Mr Zarif told reporters as he left that the meetings had been "a good start", adding: "I believe we are on the right track, now a lot depends on what we can do within the next two weeks".

Iranian officials have said they hope Europe will work with them to preserve the deal. At the same time he said the United States was prepared for concluding another agreement on new terms. We are willing to maintain communication with Iran and other relevant parties. For instance, next week, Airbus is expected to announce whether it will continue with a 15 billion pounds deal to supply Iran with 100 commercial airliners.

"We appreciate the opportunity to meet in Moscow and exchange views on the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), around which, to put it bluntly, the crisis situation has developed", Lavrov said while opening the meeting with Zarif.

White House National Security adviser John Bolton said U.S. sanctions on European companies that maintain business dealings with Iran were "possible". But no word has come from China as yet.

Trump's abrogation of the JCPOA will nearly certainly fuel the downward spiral of confrontation in the Middle East, while further complicating matters on the Korean Peninsula. This prospect comes with its own set of complications. "The policy of the administration is to make sure that Iran never gets close to deliverable nuclear weapons", Bolton told ABC television's This Week program on May 13.

It also demanded that Iran cease supplying weapons to the Houthi rebels, who have been at war with Tehran's archenemy Saudi Arabia, end cyberattacks against the USA and its allies, stop menacing US military ships in the Persian Gulf and abandon its rhetoric about destroying Israel.

Susan Rice, former national security adviser of Obama and United States ambassador to the UN, warned that U.S. withdrawal "will not force Iran back to the negotiating table... but will leave Iran's nuclear program unconstrained, and an inconstant America isolated from its allies and far less safe".

When he quit the deal last week, US President Donald Trump gave businesses a maximum of six months to wind up operations in Iran or face swingeing penalties under American sanctions.

Trump has said that he would reinstate USA nuclear sanctions on Iran and impose "the highest level" of economic bans on the Islamic Republic.

On Monday Zarif also sent a letter to the United Nations in which he accused the USA of showing a "complete disregard for global law" in pulling out of the deal.

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