Work to salvage Iran deal minus USA starts

Donald Trump

GETTYDominique de Villepin on Tuesday said France could not count itself among America’s closest allies

The 2015 agreement between Iran and world powers lifted worldwide sanctions on Tehran in return for it agreeing to curbs on its nuclear programme.

Iran has threatened to resume its nuclear weapons programme if European nations do not promise to buy oil from Tehran in a sign of opposition against the White House.

But this has proven hard with many European firms alarmed at the spectre of far-reaching U.S. financial penalties.

Nations that remain in the Iran nuclear deal met yesterday for the first time since US President Donald Trump left the pact, but diplomats see limited scope to salvage it after Washington vowed to be tougher than ever on Teheran.

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".

The talks between senior officials aimed at fleshing out the package of measures to keep oil and investments flowing.

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.

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Tehran is pressuring Europe to come up with a package of economic measures to offset the USA pullout by May 31, saying it was "weeks" from deciding whether to quit the pact.

Iran is looking for guarantees it can continue to sell its oil on world markets, have global banking access and broad protection for ongoing trade, among other things.

Press reports have previously said that Iran wants to develop nuclear-powered ships or submarines.

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

Foreign ministers of the remaining countries will meet in the coming weeks.

Speaking in Tehran, the Iranian capital, President Hassan Rouhani rejected United States demands dismissing Pompeo's conditions as "sham" diplomacy.

"We have now a deal which is in the intensive care unit, it's dying", he said.

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"Will it be enough to stop Iran if Iran ultimately decides the deal isn't working and says, "We will proceed full-speed ahead toward developing our nuclear program"?"

"We can not continue the deal. unless the remaining participants will compensate and take countermeasures against USA sanctions and continue economic relations with Iran", the official said.

Iran has struggled to benefit from the accord so far, partly because of remaining unilateral US sanctions that have deterred major Western investors from doing business with Tehran.

Some Western companies like French oil giant Total have already said they may have to quit Iran because of the US move.

The ayatollah made five demands, calling on them to "guarantee the total sales of Iran's oil", meaning Europe must promise to make up for any oil sales from third countries which are cancelled because of U.S. sanctions. "Israel fully supports President Trump's bold decision today to reject the disastrous nuclear deal", Israeli president Benjamin Netanyahu said, in a televised address. He said the US decision was "regrettable".

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and may not reflect those of Kitco Metals Inc.

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