EU determined to preserve Iran nuclear deal after US pulls out

Reaction: Trump demand that allies fall into line could cause a considerable rift with EU

 

“The deal with Iran is the culmination of 12 years of diplomacy,” EU high representative for foreign affairs Federica Mogherini said on Tuesday night in response to the US decision to pull out of the Iran nuclear deal.

“ It belongs to the entire international community . . . The EU is determined to preserve it.”

Ms Mogherini, who was a facilitator of the Iran agreement and chairs the joint committee that oversees it, echoed sentiments from many of the EU’s capitals in expressing a determination to keep the deal still working, and sent a strong signal that the union would not adhere to sanctions proposed by president Donald Trump.

The EU is determined to persuade Iran that the agreement can survive US repudiation.

The five powers that brokered the deal – China, France, Germany, Russia and the United Kingdom – along with the EU all said they regretted the decision on Tuesday night, reiterating their commitment to the deal known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

In a joint statement on Tuesday evening, British prime minister Theresa May, France’s president Emmanuel Macron and German chancellor Angela Merkel emphasised their continuing commitment to deal, saying it remained important for our shared security.

“This resolution remains the binding international legal framework for the resolution of the dispute about the Iranian nuclear programme. We urge all sides to remain committed to its full implementation and to act in a spirit of responsibility.”

The statement noted that, according to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Iran continues to abide by the restrictions set out in the deal.

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Mr Macron also tweeted to warn that the US withdrawal was putting the international nuclear non-proliferation regime at stake.

Sanctions threat

EU leaders will have been particularly alarmed by Mr Trump saying “any nation that helps Iran could also face sanctions”, a clear suggestion that EU companies may face difficulties if they continue doing business there.

The ultimatum, a demand that allies fall into line, could cause a considerable rift between the US and EU.

Earlier, a spokeswoman for the European Commission insisted the EU will continue to implement the agreement.

She reiterated that the IAEA had carried out 10 inspections and had found no significant violations by the Iranians.

“It’s quite clear that we believe that the agreement is working and our commitment to continue with implementation remains,” the spokeswoman, Maja Kocijancic, said, adding: “We believe that the agreement should be preserved.”

The EU, she said, was “working on plans to protect European companies” that might face US sanctions for continuing to trade with Iran.

In increasingly desperate attempts to dissuade Mr Trump from abandoning the JCPOA, EU leaders, most recently Mr Macron and Dr Merkel, have flown to Washington to argue with the president that far from going soft on Iran, they are determined to take it to task over its ballistic missile programme and its military activities in Syria and Yemen.

That can best be done, they argued, by maintaining the JCPOA.

On Tuesday in Brussels, officials from the EU, France, Germany and UK met a delegation of Iranian officials led by the deputy foreign minister for political affairs, Abbas Araghchi.

There have been reports that Iran may be willing to maintain the deal as long as the EU, Russia and China are prepared to defy the US by continuing to trade with Tehran.

Russia and China issued a joint statement on Friday declaring their “unwavering support for the comprehensive and effective implementation” of the deal and citing “the urgent necessity for all parties to the JCPOA to rigorously adhere to and fully implement their commitments”.

* This article was amended on May 9th, 2018 to correct a factual error