Tuesday, 22 October, 2019

Iran sets May 31 deadline in scramble to salvage nuclear deal

Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi
Patty Aguilar | 26 May, 2018, 21:37

Early Friday morning in Vienna, representatives of the U.K., France, Germany, Russia and China - the remaining signatories to the Iran nuclear deal - met with Tehran officials for talks on mitigating any fallout following the USA withdrawal from the nuclear deal.

A senior European Union official said after the meeting that the bloc could not "give guarantees but we can create the necessary conditions for the Iranians to keep benefiting from the sanctions lifting under the JCPOA and to protect our interests and continue to develop legitimate business with Iran".

Under the landmark accord, Iran had accepted limits on its nuclear programme in exchange for relief from global trade, oil and banking sanctions.

"We will apply unprecedented financial pressure on the Iranian regime", Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in his first major foreign policy address since moving to the State Department from the Central Intelligence Agency.

US President Donald Trump's pullout declaration from the multilateral nuclear deal with Iran is tantamount to a declaration of war in the Middle East, which would lead to the change of the regime in Tehran.

Speaking ahead of the Vienna talks, the Iranian official said that for his country to stay in the deal, the relief granted would have to be guaranteed by the other parties involved and that Tehran needs specifics on how that will happen by the end of May. "We will understand whether, as our leader, said, the European can give us reliable guarantees or not".

"We are working on a variety of measures to mitigate consequences of the United States withdrawal", the official, who did not want to be named, said while cautioning that "there are things that will take more time".

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Some Western companies have already quit Iran or said they may have to leave because of US sanctions.

However, there is a dilemma in front of the entire European business community: President Trump is prepared to impose sanctions on European companies that are going to do or continue business in Iran, while the EU is about to take some measures with uncertain outcomes to protect their interests.

Saturday was the second round of negotiations of the JCPOA joint commission in Vienna which was held at the request of Iran following U.S. withdrawal from the multilateral deal.

The two positions staked out this week - one by Mr Pompeo and the other by Ayatollah Khamenei - leave a narrow and treacherous path for European diplomats as they try to salvage the 2015 agreement.

"If the Europeans linger over our demands, Iran has the right to resume its nuclear activities", he said.

Diplomats who follow the agency said an inspection last month went down to the wire, but a senior diplomat also familiar with the IAEA's work said on Thursday the report was not taking Iran to task.

Iran's ballistic missile would have to go as well, Pompeo demanded, along with any hopes of renewing uranium enrichment and an end to Iran's military presence in Syria. Agency Director General Yukiya Amano was invited Friday by the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action Joint Commission to address the group on his agency's findings.

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