Monday, September 24, 2018 | ePaper

EU launches economic plan to save Iran nuclear deal

  • Print
AFP, Brussels :
The European Union on Tuesday launched work on a nine-point economic plan to keep the Iran nuclear deal alive after the abrupt withdrawal of the United States.
Europe is scrambling to come up with ways to persuade Iran to stick with the landmark 2015 agreement despite US President Donald Trump ditching it a week ago.
Tehran has warned it is prepared to resume "industrial-scale" uranium enrichment "without any restrictions" unless Europe can provide solid guarantees that it can maintain the economic benefits it gained from the nuclear agreement despite Washington reimposing sanctions.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif met EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini and his counterparts from Britain, France and Germany-the three European signatories to pact-in Brussels on the last leg of a whirlwind diplomatic tour that also took in Russia and China, the two other signatory nations.
Mogherini said EU experts were aiming to come up with concrete proposals in the coming weeks on nine key issues including ensuring Iran could sell its oil and gas products and have access to international finance. "I believe it's a good start. We're not there, we're beginning the process," Zarif told reporters after the talks.
But he warned that Tehran expected to see progress towards the guarantees it wants "within the next few weeks".
Mogherini acknowledged the enormous challenge of finding a way around US sanctions punishing businesses trading with Iran, which apply all around the world.
"We know it's a difficult task but we are detemined to do it and we have started to work to put in place measures that help ensure this happens," she told reporters.
EU experts have already started work on measures to get round US sanctions on Iran, Mogherini said.
Their efforts focus on nine key areas including maintaining economic ties with Iran, continuing Iran's ability to sell oil and gas products and protecting EU companies doing business in Iran.
The EU is also looking at how it could develop special financing vehicles for doing business with Iran.
The European Union insists the deal is working, pointing to repeated UN inspections verifying the Islamic republic's compliance with its side of the bargain.
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.
"I would like our debate to reconfirm without any doubt that as long as Iran respects the provisions of the deal, the EU will also respect it," Tusk said in a letter to the leaders on the eve of the summit.
European firms, especially those from France and Germany, rushed to invest in Iran following the 2015 accord, under which Tehran agreed to freeze its nuclear programme in return for an end to punishing international sanctions.
German exports to Iran totalled nearly 3.0 billion euros in 2017, while French exports soared from 562 million euros in 2015 to 1.5 billion in 2017 and oil giant Total has pledged to invest some $5 billion in the South Pars gas field.
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.
"We have to be realistic about the electrified rail, the live wire of American extra-territoriality and how that can serve as a deterrent to business," said British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson.
French President Emmanuel Macron held phone talks with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin on Tuesday, and the Kremlin said they had "confirmed Russia and France's commitment to make the deal work".
Washington has long complained that the nuclear deal does nothing to stop Iran's ballistic missile programme or its interference in conflicts across the Middle East from Syria to Yemen.
On Sunday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Washington still wants to work with Europe to counter Iran's "malign behaviour" and was working hard to thrash out a more wide-ranging deal with its European partners.
But Mogherini cast doubt on the idea on Tuesday, saying the deal "doesn't need to be changed, modified or have any addition".
"We're not talking about annexes or modifications of the agreement at all, we're talking about setting up concrete measures" to preserve the deal, Mogherini said.

More News For this Category

World leaders gather at UN under threat from unilateralism

World leaders gather at UN under threat from unilateralism

AP, United Nations :With rising unilateralism challenging its very existence, the United Nations convenes its annual meeting of world leaders Monday and will try once more to tackle problems together

Israel gives Bedouin villagers until end of month to leave

Israel gives Bedouin villagers until end of month to leave

AFP, Jerusalem :Israeli authorities issued a notice to residents of a Bedouin village in a strategic spot in the occupied West Bank on Sunday informing them they have until the

Iran's President blames US after attack on military parade

Iran's President blames US after attack on military parade

AP, Tehran :Iran's President Hassan Rouhani said Sunday that an unnamed U.S.-allied country in the Persian Gulf was behind an attack on a military parade that killed 25 people and

Modi faces calls for resignation over French jet deal

Modi faces calls for resignation over French jet deal

Reuters, New delhi :Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi faced calls for his resignation over allegations of corruption in a military jet deal with France after former French president Francois Hollande

US official in Russia probe suggested taping Trump: Report

US official in Russia probe suggested taping Trump: Report

Reuters, Washington: The US official who oversees the federal investigation into Russia's role in the 2016 U.S. election suggested secretly recording President Donald Trump last year and recruiting Cabinet members

New bombshell revives debate on Trump fitness for office

New bombshell revives debate on Trump fitness for office

Donald Trump faced a new challenge to his authority Friday after US media reported that his deputy attorney general had discussed ways to force him from office on grounds of

India calls off foreign ministers' meeting with Pakistan

India calls off foreign ministers' meeting with Pakistan

AP, New Delhi :India called off a planned meeting between its foreign minister and her Pakistani counterpart on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly session in New York this

Pope to honour Baltic martyrs amid abuse crisis

Pope to honour Baltic martyrs amid abuse crisis

AP, Lithuania :Russia will be the elephant in the room as Pope Francis begins a four-day visit to the Baltics amid renewed alarm about Moscow's intentions in the region it

News in brief

Canada hosts first meeting of Women FMsAFP, Montreal Women foreign ministers from around the world kicked off a first-of-its-kind meeting on Friday, bringing together more than half of the world's

US-North Korea relations making 'tremendous progress': Trump

US-North Korea relations making 'tremendous progress': Trump

President Donald Trump on Wednesday said US relations with North Korea are making "tremendous progress" from the days before his presidency when the two countries appeared close to "going to