Iran expresses satisfaction after talks with EU — Global Geopolitical Series

17 May, 2018, 01:32 | Author: Diane Mills
  • Iran, Gaza, Trump's steel and aluminium tariffs on the menu at EU leaders' dinner in Sofia

The Iran nuclear deal is in "intensive care" but could be nursed back to health within weeks, according to European Union foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini.

According to Sputnik, EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said on Tuesday that after talks with the foreign ministers of the United Kingdom, France, Germany, and Iran in Brussels that the sides had agreed to work out practical solutions in response to the U.S. withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal, within the next few weeks.

On Sunday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Washington still wants to work with Europe to counter Iran's "malign behavior" and was working hard to thrash out a more wide-ranging deal with its European partners.

Britain will attempt to save the Iran nuclear deal after Donald Trump pulled the USA out of the agreement, as hurried talks are held between Boris Johnson and his counterparts. Mr. Trump has cited weaknesses in the agreement. It also came over the opposition of China and Russian Federation, which are also party to the 2015 deal. The US government has said the sanctions on Iran will go back into force from November 5. While Russia described it as deeply disappointing, Barack Obama, under whose presidency the deal was struck, said it was misguided, just as a statement by more than 100 European diplomats and politicians described it as America shooting itself in the foot. He ended on a hopeful note after acknowledging that Iran's leaders had ruled out new nuclear negotiations: "But the fact is they are going to want to make a new and lasting deal, one that benefits all of Iran and the Iranian people".

Options could include drafting an EU licence allowing European firms to do business with Iran while protecting them from U.S. sanctions, as well as support from the European Investment Bank and measures backing smaller firms that are not active in the US.

The European airplane company Airbus, for instance, has a contract to provide some 100 aircraft to Iran Air, which is operating with an aging fleet of planes.

On Wednesday night European Union leaders are meeting in Sofia, Bulgaria and the Iranian deal will be at the top of their agenda. Mogherini said she will brief the leaders on the latest developments.

Highlighting just how hard it will be, the U.S. Treasury announced on Tuesday more sanctions, including on Iran's central bank governor, just minutes before the Brussels meeting was due to begin. The sanctions will also bar aircraft companies from selling commercial planes to Iran and drastically limit imports from the country.

France, he said, is "totally determined" to "make our economic interests respected and to respect one principle, which is the refusal of extra-territorial sanctions".

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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.

Europe, he added, must have an "independent financial tool" that would "allow our companies to trade freely in places Europe decided it was necessary or useful to do trade".

However, on Tuesday the USA hit Iran's central bank governor with sanctions.

At the same time, dozens of contracts signed between European businesses and the Islamic Republic could be at risk of cancellation if Brussels obeys Washington's sanctions. The lifting of the sanctions has now given Iran the capacity to rebuild its trading links with the rest of the world. Roughly 120 German firms operate in Iran, and almost 10,000 German companies trade with Iran.

Trump opted not to extend sanctions relief on Iran ahead of a May 12 deadline, vowing instead to re-impose nuclear-related economic penalties. It's meant to be a 20-year project and Total's investments are believed to be $5 billion.

Criticism of the US sanctions also came from the United Kingdom, which resumed its trade with Iran after the deal was struck.

Mr Johnson revealed on Monday that he would discuss ways to protect them during a meeting with fellow foreign ministers from France and Germany on Tuesday.

It's also possible that the US economy won't be affected by higher oil prices, said Antoine Halff, a senior research scholar at Columbia University's Center on Global Energy Policy and a former chief oil analyst at the International Energy Agency.

"We have a major problem", said Karine Berger, a former French MP, who was in 2016 the rapporteur of a French National Assembly report on U.S. extraterritoriality legislation.

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