EU supports Iran nuclear deal, wants to avoid further escalation

EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said the EU fully supports the international nuclear accord with Iran and wants rival powers to avoid any further escalation over the issue. (AFP)
Updated 13 May 2019

EU supports Iran nuclear deal, wants to avoid further escalation

  • United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is also expected to meet EU officials in Brussels on Monday to talk about Iran
  • European countries said last week they wanted to preserve Iran’s nuclear deal and rejected “ultimatums” from Tehran

BRUSSELS: The European Union fully supports the international nuclear accord with Iran and wants rival powers to avoid any further escalation over the issue, EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said on Monday.
“We will continue to support it as much as we can with all our instruments and all our political will,” Mogherini told reporters before a meeting with the foreign ministers of Britain, France and Germany, who are signatories to the deal.

Britain’s Foreign Minister Jeremy Hunt also warned of the risks of an unintended conflict between the US and Iran over the unraveling nuclear deal.
“We are very worried about the risk of a conflict happening by accident with an escalation that is unintended,” Hunt told reporters in Brussels, adding that it was crucial not to put Iran back on the path of re-nuclearisation.

United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is also expected to meet EU officials in Brussels on Monday to talk about Iran.
Mogherini said she was informed during the night of Pompeo’s arrival to Brussels where EU foreign ministers are gathered for a regular monthly meeting.

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“We will be here all day with a busy agenda. So we will see during the day how and if will manage to arrange a meeting. He’s always welcome obviously, but there are no precise plans at the moment,” Mogherini said.
Pompeo is on his way to the Black Sea resort of Sochi where he plans to meet Russia’s President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Tuesday to discuss Iran.
European countries said last week they wanted to preserve Iran’s nuclear deal and rejected “ultimatums” from Tehran, after Iran relaxed restrictions on its nuclear program and threatened moves that might breach the 2015 international pact.

“We in Europe agree that this treaty is necessary for our security,” German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas told reporters in Brussels. “Nobody wants Iran to get possession of an atomic bomb and that’s been achieved so far.”
Iran’s move was in response to US sanctions imposed following Donald Trump’s withdrawal of the United States from the accord with Tehran a year ago.


Former Unaoil managers convicted in Britain of Iraq bribery

Updated 13 July 2020

Former Unaoil managers convicted in Britain of Iraq bribery

  • The verdict marks a milestone in the British arm of a 4-year, global inquiry

LONDON: Two former managers of Monaco-based energy consultancy Unaoil have been convicted in Britain of bribing Iraqi officials to clinch lucrative oil projects as the war-ravaged country tried to boost exports after the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003.
The verdict marks a milestone in the British arm of a four-year, global inquiry into how Unaoil, once run by the prominent Ahsani family, helped major Western companies secure energy projects across the Middle East, Central Asia and Africa over two decades.
A London jury found British-Lebanese Ziad Akle, Unaoil’s former Iraq territory manager, and Stephen Whiteley, a British former manager for Iraq, Kazakhstan and Angola, guilty of plotting to make corrupt payments to secure oil contracts between 2005 and 2010.
But after a marathon 19 days of deliberations, the jury was unable to reach a verdict in the case against Paul Bond, a British one-time Middle East sales manager for Dutch-based oil and gas services company SBM Offshore. He faces a retrial, the UK Serious Fraud Office (SFO) confirmed on Monday.
The three men denied any wrongdoing.
The judge lifted reporting restrictions on Monday after a drawn-out trial that was suspended in March as the coronavirus brought parts of the criminal justice system to a halt, and restarted in May in a new court to allow jurors to socially distance.
“These men dishonestly and corruptly took advantage of a government reeling from dictatorship and occupation and trying to reconstruct a war-torn state,” said SFO head Lisa Osofsky following the verdicts against Akle and Whiteley.
“They abused the system to cut out competitors and line their own pockets.”
The agency has now secured three convictions in the case after Basil Al Jarah, Unaoil’s 71-year-old former country manager for Iraq, pleaded guilty last year.
The principal suspects in the case, brothers Cyrus and Saman Ahsani, evaded British investigators and pleaded guilty to bribery in the United States after an extradition battle in Italy in 2018.
Akle, 45, Whiteley, 65, and Al Jarah will be sentenced on July 22 and 23, the SFO said.
BRIBERY
Prosecutors said the defendants had conspired with others to pay bribes to public officials at the Iraqi South Oil Company and, in Al Jarah’s case, Iraqi Ministry of Oil representatives, to secure oil contracts for Unaoil and its clients.
Al Jarah admitted to paying more than $6 million in bribes to secure contracts worth $800 million to supply oil pipelines and offshore mooring buoys. Akle and Whiteley were found guilty of paying more than $500,000 in bribes to secure a $55 million contract for offshore mooring buoys.
In his defense, Akle said payments were authorized for security purposes. Whiteley denied knowing about payments but said he wanted a “level playing field” during a competitive tender.
A lawyer for Whiteley was unable to comment and legal representatives for Akle and Bond did not immediately respond to requests for comment.