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Europe: World must hold end of bargain with Iran

The European Union says the international community has an obligation to maintain economic relations with Iran, despite the United States’ unilateral withdrawal from a multilateral deal with the Islamic Republic that could hamper such relations.

Referring to a 2015 deal between Iran and originally six world powers, EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said during a trip to Wellington, New Zealand, on Tuesday that Iran was in compliance with its obligations under the agreement, which warranted reciprocal commitment.

“So the deal has two parts: Iran gives up their nuclear program and the international community opens up trade and economic relations with Iran. This second pillar has to be maintained if we want the first pillar to be maintained,” Mogherini said. “So far, Iran has been compliant fully with their nuclear commitments.”

Despite warnings from the EU and other international players, the United States pulled out of the deal in May and reintroduced the sanctions that had been lifted under the accord. Washington also said third countries that maintain business with Iran would be penalized with “secondary sanctions.”

Iran, meanwhile, has remained in the deal, stressing, however, that its commitment would only continue if the remaining parties could ensure continued trade with Iran and Iranian access to the international market.

“We are doing our best to keep Iran in the deal, to keep Iran benefiting from the economic benefits that the agreement brings to the people of Iran,” Mogherini said in her Tuesday remarks.

The EU has already activated a “blocking statute” to protect European businesses from the secondary sanctions.

But a number of European companies that had returned to the Iranian market after the conclusion of the deal in 2015 have nevertheless left once again.

Mogherini said the statute had even been revised to ensure that companies submit to the rules set out by the bloc and not the US.

“This ‘blocking statute’ has now been updated so the legislation in Europe protects European businesses from the effects of the US sanctions, indicating to these companies that they should comply with European legislation rather than with American ones,” she said.

Mogherini also repeated the bloc’s assertion that the nuclear agreement, known officially as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), was central to regional and international stability.

“If there is one piece of international agreements on nuclear non-proliferation that is delivering, it has to be maintained,” she said.

On Monday night, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani admitted that Europe had done what it could to sustain the JCPOA “politically” but stressed that the continent now had to take practical action to that effect.

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