Iranian leader describes European Union proposals to save JCPOA as ‘disappointing’

Hannah Rogers
July 7, 2018

Ministers from Britain, China, France, Germany and Russian Federation met their Iranian counterpart in Vienna for the first time since U.S. President Donald Trump left a nuclear accord in May, but diplomats had seen limited scope for salvaging it. Washington has since told countries they must stop buying the OPEC producer's oil from November 4 or face financial consequences.

Trump announced on May 8 that Washington was walking away from the nuclear agreement, which was reached between Iran and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council - the United States, Britain, France, Russia and China - Germany, and the European Union in 2015.

VIENNA - Talks to save the 2015 nuclear deal on Friday are unlikely to satisfy Iran, European powers said, and Tehran warned that it could leave the accord if it was not fully compensated for the re-imposition of USA sanctions.

This was extrapolated by United States officials as a threaten to shut down all regional oil shipping, when it could just as easily be interpreted as noting that Iran can basically export its oil under the guise of it coming from other regional countries, which is common behavior during sanctions.

Iranian Minister of Foreign Affairs Mohammad Javad Zarif (C) and political deputy at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Iran Abbas Araghchi take part in a Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) ministerial meeting on the Iran nuclear deal on July 6, 2018 in Vienna, Austria.

Iranian officials have said that key for them is to ensure measures that guarantee oil exports do not halt, and that Tehran still has access to the SWIFT global bank payments messaging system or an alternative. "We expect a clear action plan from Europe with a timetable so it can compensate for the USA exit from the deal".

He said that up to now, the package of incentives proposed to Iran were "disappointing", and that they "lacked an operational solution and a specific method for cooperation, and featured just a set of general commitments".

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Tehran has conditioned its stay in the deal to practical European strides to make sure Iran's dividends from the deal would not be affected when U.S. sanctions "snap back" in August.

Speaking at a joint press conference with his Swiss counterpart, Alain Berset, in Bern on Tuesday, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani lashed out at American officials for threatening to stop Iran's oil exports, saying they would never be able to carry out such a threat.

Rouhani had Thursday told French President Emmanuel Macron by phone that the Europe-led offer of economic measures did "not meet all our demands", Iran's state news agency IRNA reported.

"Iran's leadership is clearly adamant that the new situation created by the USA withdrawal from the nuclear pact will not go without consequences".

Since Trump's announcement, Iran's rial currency has fallen, prices have risen and the country has been hit by street protests and strikes. "We want to make clear to Iran that it will still gain economic benefits through this agreement".

Iran, which strongly denies ever seeking to build a nuclear bomb, has warned it could resume uranium enrichment for civilian purposes if the deal collapses.

The rally on Saturday was attended by thousands of people and attracted several USA politicians, including former NY mayor Rudy Giuliani, who is now President Donald Trump's personal lawyer.

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