EU and Iran defend nuclear deal, under fire from Trump

Federica Mogherini (R), High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice President of the European Commission, walks through the US Capitol between meetings in Washington, DC, Nov. 7, 2017. EU foreign policy chief Mogherini brings her campaign to save the Iran nuclear deal from US President Donald Trump’s scorn to Capitol Hill, where senators are working on a bill that could kill it. (AFP/Saul Loeb)
Updated 10 November 2017
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EU and Iran defend nuclear deal, under fire from Trump

SAMARKAND, Uzbekistan: Senior officials from the European Union and Iran spoke up on Friday in defense of the agreement limiting Tehran’s nuclear program, as the pact comes under heavy pressure from US President Donald Trump.
The nuclear deal was “a major achievement of European and international multilateral diplomacy,” EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini told a conference in Uzbekistan.
“The European Union will make sure it will continue to be fully implemented by all, in all its parts,” she said.
Trump on Oct. 13 dealt a blow to the pact by refusing to certify that Tehran was complying with the accord, under which Iran agreed to curb its nuclear program in return for relief from economic sanctions. International inspectors said it was complying.
The US Congress has until mid-December to decide whether to reimpose sanctions lifted by the deal.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif also spoke on Friday at the United Nations-sponsored conference on Central Asian security and development in Samarkand.
“By clinching the nuclear deal and fulfilling all our commitments under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, we have in action proved our compliance with the principle of non-proliferation and nuclear disarmament,” he said, without mentioning Trump directly.

Uzbek thaw
Mogherini said the EU’s ties with ex-Soviet Central Asia were at an all-time high following moves by Uzbekistan’s new government to open up the previously isolated nation.
Mogherini, the first EU foreign policy chief to visit Uzbekistan in four years, met President Shavkat Mirziyoyev as well as foreign ministers of all five Central Asian nations.
Mirziyoyev was elected president last December after the death of his authoritarian predecessor Islam Karimov, who was accused of systematic human rights abuses and whose relations with the West were poor.
Seeking to modernize Uzbekistan’s economy, Mirziyoyev has moved to mend those relations and announced an ambitious reform program at home.
After a “very long and fruitful meeting” with Mirziyoyev, Mogherini said the reforms had the full support of Brussels.
Mirziyoyev has also improved ties with neighboring Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan after years of bitter standoffs over matters such as borders and water use, winning further praise from Mogherini.
“I would say that we are at the top of our historical experience of cooperation, but we want to use it not as a target point, but as a starting point,” she said.


Iran scrambles for European lifeline

A special meeting of the Joint Commission of parties to the JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action) on Iran’s nuclear deal is in progress in Vienna. (Reuters)
Updated 26 May 2018
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Iran scrambles for European lifeline

  • ‘Noose is tightening on Tehran’ in face of US sanctions, expert tells Arab News
  • US President Donald Trump has long criticized the deal with Iran saying it failed to do enough to curtail Tehran’s nuclear ambitions.

JEDDAH: Signatories of the Iran nuclear deal met in Vienna on Friday in a bid to save the agreement after Washington’s dramatic withdrawal earlier this month.

For the first time since the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) came into force in 2015, China, Russia, France, Britain and Germany gathered — at Iran’s request — without the US, which pulled out of the agreement on May 8 and said it would reinstate sanctions.

US President Donald Trump has long criticized the deal with Iran — concluded under his predecessor Barack Obama — saying it failed to do enough to curtail Tehran’s nuclear ambitions.

Speaking to AFP after Friday’s meeting, Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister, Abbas Araghchi, said: “We are negotiating... to see if they can provide us with a package that can give Iran the benefits of sanctions lifting.” 

“Practical solutions” were required to address Iran’s concerns over its oil exports, banking flows and foreign investment in the country, he said.

Russian delegate Mikhail Ulyanov struck an upbeat note after the meeting, saying: “We have all the chances to succeed, provided we have the political will.

Harvard scholar and Iranian affairs expert Majid Rafizadeh told Arab News that it would be against Europe’s interests to stay in the deal.

“The European nations should be cognizant of the fact that the beneficiary of the nuclear deal is Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps and its militias,” he said. “Staying in the deal or submitting to the Iranian regime’s new demands will inflict damage on the EU’s geopolitical and national security interest in the short and long term.”

The EU could not thwart or skirt US primary and secondary sanctions against Iran, he said. Rafizadeh said Iran’s hard-liners were attempting to obtain concessions from the EU by threatening to pull out of the JCPOA.

“But from the perspective of the Iranian leaders, giving concessions means weakness. And although Iran is playing tough, it needs the deal to support Bashar Assad and its proxies.

“The European governments should be aware that the Iranian leaders — moderates and hard-liners — are playing a shrewd tactical game.

“The regime is playing a classic ‘good cop, bad cop’ game. The moderates set the tone on the international stage through their shrewd diplomatic skills and softer tone, while the hard-liners take a tougher stance to help the moderates win more concessions,” said Rafizadeh.

Oubai Shahbandar, a Syrian-American analyst and fellow at the New America Foundation’s International Security Program, said the noose was tightening on Tehran.

“European firms simply cannot afford the penalties imposed by US secondary sanctions on Iran. The Iranian plan to press Europe to compensate for President Trump’s policy decision to restart a crippling sanctions regime is unlikely to prove fruitful,” he told Arab News.

Recent revelations of a covert Iranian facility designed to develop long-range intercontinental ballistic missiles that can be fitted with nuclear warheads will only complicate matters for Tehran as it scrambles for a European lifeline, Shahbandar said.

“The collapse of the JCPOA is likely to prove a major shock to the Iranian economy in the long run,” he said.