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EU, Iran mull guarantees to keep nuclear deal

15 May 2018 21:35 (+01:00 GMT)
EU, Iran mull guarantees to keep nuclear deal

Brussels, 15 May (Argus) — EU, French, German and UK foreign ministers met with their Iranian counterpart in Brussels today to examine measures aimed at preserving full implementation by Iran as well as the economic benefits outlined in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

"It's not just about maintaining the agreement but also seeing how economic guarantees can be given to Iran so that it benefits economically from the agreement which is an integral part of the commitments taken in July 2015," French foreign affairs minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said after the meeting.

In exchange for restricting Iran's nuclear program, under the JCPOA the EU lifted sanctions on Iran's crude, gas and petrochemical products as well as exports of gold, precious metals and diamonds, aluminium and steel.

EU foreign affairs high representative Federica Mogherini noted the need to "maintain and deepen" trade with Iran and to keep the continued lifting of sanctions as an integral part of the JCPOA.

"We're not naive and know it will be difficult for all sides," said Mogherini.

"There are very clear economic benefits that have been specified in the JCPOA that the Iranian people have to receive in order for the balance created in the JCPOA to remain," said Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif. "We'll have to see whether the remaining participants in the JCPOA can deliver those benefits to Iran."

Zarif underlined the need for guarantees that economic benefits will continue to be given by the remaining JCPOA signatories within a few weeks.

UK foreign minister Boris Johnson emphasized the need to protect legitimate EU business with Iran.

"But we have to accept and have to be realistic about the live wire of US extra territoriality and how that can serve as a deterrent to business," said Johnson.

Adding Iran central bank governor Valiollah Seif to the US sanctions could make it harder for EU-based companies to trade with and invest in Iran, even before the bulk of US financial sanctions against that institution go into effect later this year.

A 1996 EU regulation in theory could block extra-territorial legislation by third countries. But in practice, EU firms with both Iranian and US trade will face increasing difficulties.