Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif says all the remaining signatories to a 2015 landmark nuclear agreement have political will to stand up to the United States’ move to withdraw from the deal.
Zarif made the remarks while addressing reporters in the Austrian capital Vienna on Friday following a meeting with his counterparts from Britain, France, Germany, China and Russia for the first time since US President Donald Trump pulled Washington out from the nuclear accord, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, in May.
The US president announced on May 8 that Washington was walking away from the nuclear agreement and that he plans to reinstate US nuclear sanctions on Iran and impose “the highest level” of economic bans on the Islamic Republic.
Under the JCPOA, Iran undertook to put limits on its nuclear program in exchange for the removal of nuclear-related sanctions imposed against Tehran.
Zarif pointed to his “very serious and constructive” talks with the remaining parties of the nuclear deal and said, “I believe that there is political will to continue work and save this agreement but we must see what will happen to this issue in practice.”
However, he warned that if the European sides fail to properly fulfill their commitments, Iran would take its own measures to counter the US withdrawal from the JCPOA.
The top Iranian diplomat said the participants at the Vienna meeting agreed to take “good measures” to save the JCPOA.
Since the US president pulled Washington out of the historic nuclear deal, European countries have been scrambling to ensure that Iran gets enough economic benefits to persuade it to stay in the deal. The remaining parties have vowed to stay in the accord.
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 US sanctions “snap back” in August.
The first group of sanctions on Iran’s automotive sector, gold trade, and other industries will “snap back” on August 4. Further sanctions on oil and transactions with the central bank of Iran will come into effect November 6.
Zarif, one of the architect’s of the nuclear pact, further said Iran received an economic package from the European countries two days ago but Iranian “President [Hassan] Rouhani said it is not enough.”
He added that Europe must translate its commitment and measures into action before the re-imposition of the US sanctions on Tehran.
It must activate a “blocking statute” – legislation banning EU companies from complying with US sanctions on Iran – and allow the European Investment Bank (EIB) to do business in Iran, he said.
He noted that he would inform Iranian officials on the Friday meeting and “most senior-level” authorities would make the final decisions about the time and details of future steps.
Iran, world powers agree to continue talks to save nuclear deal: Mogherini
Meanwhile, EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said Iran and the remaining parties to the JCPOA have agreed to continue talking, including on economic measures, over how to save the nuclear deal after the US withdrawal.
Mogherini, who chairs the Vienna talks, read a statement while speaking at a news conference after the first ministerial meeting between the remaining parties to the JCPOA since the United States withdrawal.
She said all sides would continue to look at ways to maintain the deal despite the re-imposition of US sanctions.
“The participants recognized that, in return for the implementation by Iran of its nuclear-related commitments, the lifting of sanctions, including the economic dividends arising from it, constitutes an essential part of the JCPOA,” Mogherini said.
She added that the participants will work on the issues such as “the encouragement of further investments in Iran, the protection of economic operators for their investments and other commercial and financial activities in or in relation to Iran, the bringing together of private and public sector experts, the practical support for trade with and investment in Iran, the protection of companies from the extraterritorial effects of US sanctions.”
She noted that such cooperation would be “through direct bilateral efforts and through engagement with international partners in order to encourage them to follow the same policies and to establish similar mechanisms in their economic relations with Iran.”
World powers back Iran oil exports despite US threat
Iran’s remaining partners in the JCPOA vowed on Friday to keep the energy exporter plugged into the global economy.
Foreign ministers from three European nations along with Russia and China agreed on an 11-point list of joint goals, saying they remained committed to the nuclear accord and to building up economic relations with Iran, including “the continuation of Iran’s export of oil and gas” and other energy products.
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.
The Iranian president says the US will never be able to stop Iran’s oil exports.
“The US [officials’] statement in this regard is unilateralism…and a breach of all international rules and regulations in energy and trade sectors,” Rouhani said.
The US sanctions would include a universal ban on Iran over buying or acquiring US dollars as well as restrictions over purchases of crude oil from the country and investing in its oil sector projects.
JCPOA parties must do independent trade with Iran: Lavrov
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov also said on Friday that the remaining parties to the nuclear deal had agreed to work out ways of trading with Iran independently of the United States’ “whim.”
Lavrov urged new ways of trading with Iran if Washington restores sanctions against Tehran.
In a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of a summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) in June, President Rouhani said Russia plays a key role in maintaining the nuclear deal after US withdrawal.
The Iranian president said, “After the US unilateral and illegal exit, Moscow has an important role in the reinforcement of the JCPOA and fulfillment of the opposite sides’ commitments.”