European Union moves to safeguard interests in Iran after threat of U.S. sanctions

Leroy Wright
May 15, 2018

EU Spokesperson Maja Kocijancic said on Tuesday that the meeting was the continuity of telephone calls that the two politicians have maintained over the past few days on the regional bloc's stance after the United States' withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

Iran's talks with European countries to save the nuclear deal are on the right path despite the United States withdrawal, its foreign minister said after meeting the European Union's foreign policy chief on Tuesday. The EU hopes to convince Iran to continue to respect the landmark nuclear agreement.

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.

"The ultimate objective of all these negotiations is to obtain assurances that the interests of the Iranian people, which are guaranteed by the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, will be protected", Zarif said.

Even if the United States desire to renegotiate a new deal is actualised-a prospect Iran has dismissed-it is unlikely a new agreement could be reached soon (the original deal took 12 years of talks).

Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif attends a meeting with European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini at the EU Council in Brussels, Belgium, on May 15, 2018.

Top Iranian officials, including Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei and President Hassan Rouhani, have said Europeans must give the required guarantees in order for Tehran to stay in the deal.

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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.

French diplomats said they also wanted to assess Iran's intentions in sticking to the deal, but also to see how open it was to serious talks on other Western concerns.

According to Zarif, the objective of his trip is to get guarantees from the other participants of the nuclear deal that the interests of Iran will be protected.

The deal's proponents say it is crucial to forestalling a nuclear Iran and preventing wider war in the Middle East.

They include retaliatory sanctions, allowing the European Investment Bank to invest directly in Iran and co-ordinating euro-denominated credit lines from European governments.

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. "This is why we need to cooperate in protecting our legitimate interests".

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