Published: Tue, May 15, 2018
Finance | By Cynthia Curry

Iran, EU meet to try to save nuclear deal

Iran, EU meet to try to save nuclear deal

Mohammad Javad Zarif met EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini ahead of evening talks with his counterparts from Britain, France and Germany - the three European signatories to the 2015 landmark deal who are scrambling to preserve it.

Iran's main concern is that renewed USA sanctions will have a far-reaching impact on the willingness of non-American companies and banks to deal with Iran, crippling its trade, oil exports and an already strained economy.

"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. The U.S. exit, together with its threaten to sanction companies economically involved with Tehran, has sparked outrage in Europe.

Zarif is now on a tour of the countries that are the parties to the agreement on the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) to hold consultations to salvage the deal.

The meeting with Wang Yi in Beijing, at China's invitation, is Zarif's first stop on a diplomatic tour after President Donald Trump withdrew from the 2015 deal to limit Iran's nuclear program and threatened to reimpose the "highest level" of financial sanctions on the Islamic Republic.

China was closely involved in negotiating the agreement as one of the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council and has always been a close Iranian economic partner, buying about a third of Iran's oil shipments.

When asked whether the United States might impose sanctions on European companies that continue to do business with Iran, Bolton told CNN: "It's possible".

The sanctions will target critical sectors of Iran's economy, including petrochemicals, energy and finance.

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Trump directed his administration to "immediately begin the process of re-imposing sanctions" related to the deal, a White House statement said.

Mr Zarif also discussed the agreement with his Russian counterpart, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, on Monday. If the United States punishes European companies for doing business with Iran, foreign companies will likely walk away from Iran.

"The consequences of American sanctions go well beyond goods shipped by American companies, " Bolton said.

It comes after Iranian President Hassan Rohani confirmed Tehran would remain in the nuclear accord provided that the nation's interests were protected.

A number of voices in Iran have suggested the deal is unlikely to survive.

"The European signatories should make up for the United States withdrawal from the JCPOA and guarantee our rights".

Trump denounced the accord, completed under his predecessor Barack Obama, as a "horrible, one-sided deal that should have never, ever been made" as it did not cover Iran's ballistic missile programme or its role in Middle East conflicts.

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