Tuesday, 21 August, 2018

Iran, EU top diplomat meet seeking to save nuclear deal

French Foreign Affairs Minister Jean Yves Le Drian leaves the Elysee Presidential palace in Paris Iran, EU top diplomat meet seeking to save nuclear deal
Melinda Barton | 16 May, 2018, 14:08

After the President Donald Trump announced his withdrawal from the Iran deal, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said his decision was "disappointing".

Speaking in an interview with CNN's State of the Union on Sunday, Bolton did not rule out sanctioning European entities trading with Iran several days after President Donald Trump pulled the USA out of the Iran nuclear deal.

Iran's full compliance with its obligations under the agreement has been acknowledged by the International Atomic Energy Agency, as well as the USA intelligence community, the UNSC and Trump's own top advisers, Rice pointed out: it has relinquished 97% of its enriched uranium stockpile, dismantled 2/3 of its centrifuges (uranium processing machines) and its entire plutonium facility.

In the aftermath of Washington's pullout, Europeans are seeking ways to protect the interests of their firms doing business in Iran and help them escape the brunt of the upcoming U.S. sanctions.

But the reach of the US financial system, the dominance of the USA dollar, Trump's efforts to weaken the WTO and the presence of European companies' operations in the United States all weaken any potential EU measures.

"It's possible", Bolton said. "It depends on the conduct of other governments".

EU leaders aim to show a united front on preserving the Iran deal when they meet for a pre-summit dinner in Sofia on Wednesday, European Council President Donald Tusk said. The sanctions will not only bar USA companies from doing business with Iran, but they also will hurt European and other companies by prohibiting them from using American banks unless they cut links with Iran.

Meanwhile, Lavrov said that Russian Federation and Europe had a duty to "jointly defend their legal interests" in terms of the Iran deal.

The landmark agreement was signed in July 2015 by Iran and the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council - Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States - plus the European Union and Germany.

Lavrov said that Russian Federation understands Iran's position, adding that the USA action in pulling out from the JCPOA was harmful for the non-proliferation regime.

The talks in Brussels on Tuesday evening will be followed by a meeting with the Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in an intensive diplomatic effort to shore up agreement over the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) agreed in 2015.

The deal, painstakingly negotiated over more than a decade, lifted punishing economic sanctions on Iran in return for it abandoning its nuclear ambitions.

Those comments were echoed by Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson who told parliament that regime change in Iran was not a policy Britain should pursue.

Zarif will meet his counterparts from France, Great Britain and Germany. The tour has already taken him to Beijing and Moscow.

"This analysis is ongoing and we are developing wind-down plans for relevant business to ensure appropriate termination within the defined periods", he said. The Trump administration has many pro-Israel and anti-Iran officials.

The EU insists the deal is working, pointing to repeated United Nations inspections verifying the Islamic republic's compliance with its side of the bargain, and Mogherini's spokeswoman Maja Kocijancic told AFP ahead Zarif's arrival that "we must do our utmost to preserve it".

Trump's unilateral withdrawal fom the Iran deal would increase tensions in the Middle East and fuel an arms race.

"I think at the moment there's some feeling in Europe - they're really surprised we got out of it, really surprised at the reimposition of strict sanctions".

Foreign ministers from the UK, France and Germany are due to sit down with their Iranian counterpart, Javad Zarif, in Brussels on Tuesday to discuss how to move forward.