Iran official says Europe has 60 days to give nuclear 'guarantees'

Sean Reid
May 15, 2018

Iran's foreign minister is visiting China for talks following President Donald Trump's decision to scrap US participation in the agreement over Iran's nuclear program.

Iran's Foreign Minister Javad Zarif has begun a diplomatic tour to seek assurances that signatories to a landmark nuclear deal will back it despite its abandonment by the US.

"I think the president said in his statement on Tuesday that countries that continue to deal with Iran could face U.S. sanctions", he said. "We couldn't reach agreement with our E3 partners", referring to Britain, France and Germany, all signatories of the Iran deal.

US President Donald Trump on May 8 announced that the United States was withdrawing from the 2015 deal negotiated by the Obama administration. After years of crippling economic sanctions, the deal opened Iran to business with the United States and Europe, and companies around the world began doing business in Iran.

European countries have 60 days to provide "guarantees" to safeguard Iran's interests, after the United States withdrew from the 2015 nuclear deal, Tehran's parliament's website said quoting an Iranian official.

Zarif was in Moscow to meet Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Monday, a day after visiting leaders in Beijing.

"If the nuclear deal is to continue, the interests of the people of Iran must be assured", Zarif added. If the USA punishes European companies for doing business with Iran, foreign companies will likely walk away from Iran. "We will try to uphold our side of the bargain".

But the measures have never been used and may be hard to enforce, while European Union companies could still face asset seizures, fines and possibly criminal charges in the United States.

"We'll outline what we might be able to do to keep trade flowing, but we'll tell them (Iran) that they should be under no illusion about our ability to influence American policy and to influence the economic situation." the diplomat said.

A number of European companies, including Airbus, Siemens and Total, had established operations in Iran since the signing of the deal.

Zarif is now on a tour of the countries that are the parties to the agreement on the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) to hold consultations to salvage the deal.

The minister echoed calls from Chancellor Angela Merkel and other leaders that Iran should agree to a broader deal that went beyond the original accord and included Iran's "problematic role in the region".

"The Europeans, after the withdrawal of the U.S. from the deal, have found themselves forced to save the Joint Cooperative Plan of Action themselves", he added.

Despite the USA exit, Britain and Iran expressed their commitment to ensuring that the accord is upheld, according to a statement released by British Prime Minister Theresa May's office.

But European diplomats were despondent.

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