Published: Thu, May 17, 2018
Global News | By Stacy Ballard

European leaders step up efforts to save Iran nuclear deal

European leaders step up efforts to save Iran nuclear deal

The U.S. Treasury has put European businesses on notice that they have 90 days to wrap up most business with Iran before the renewed U.S. sanctions take effect, and U.S. leaders have been warning European companies to heed the sanctions.

"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.

Total TOTF.PA said it might quit a multi-billion-dollar gas project if it could not secure a waiver from US sanctions.

French Foreign Minister Jean Yves Le Drian and Mogherini during talks with Iran | Olivier Matthys  AFP via Getty Images
French Foreign Minister Jean Yves Le Drian and Mogherini during talks with Iran | Olivier Matthys AFP via Getty Images

"We have to be realistic about the electrified rail, the live wire of American extraterritoriality and how [it] can serve as a deterrent to business", Johnson told reporters in Brussels.

On May 11, Merkel criticized the decision of US President Donald Trump to withdraw the United States from the agreement with Iran, as she said, 'it is wrong to unilaterally cancel a pact unanimously approved by the Security Council of United Nations'.

In one of a series of meetings, foreign ministers from Britain, France and Germany — signatories of the 2015 deal to stop Iran developing nuclear weapons — were to hold talks with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, amid concerns that the sanctions will also damage European business interests. He met his European counterparts in Brussels on Tuesday.

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But the reach of the US financial system, the dominance of the dollar and the presence of European companies' operations in the United States all weaken any potential EU measures.

While the focus of Tuesday's talks was on salvaging the nuclear deal, European Union diplomats said they needed some time to clarify the United States policy on sanctions, but also generally towards Iran.

"They said that they would ensure Iran enjoys the benefits of the JCPOA and they accepted that the implementation of the JCPOA has nothing to do with other issues", he said, referring to Iran's demand that talks on saving the deal must not be linked to pressure on its missile programme and regional interventions. Johnson said regime change in Iran was not a policy Britain should pursue.

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Merkel said the Europeans aren't "blind" to threats posed by Iran's activities in Syria to Israel, for example. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, not Rouhani, has the last say on all state matters.

When he quit the deal last week, U.S. president Donald Trump gave businesses a maximum of six months to wind up operations in Iran or face swingeing penalties under American sanctions.

"Let's not fool ourselves that there are dozens of things we can do", said a senior European diplomat.

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