EU will keep working to preserve Iran nuclear deal, says Mogherini

Updated August 31, 2019

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The deal has been in jeopardy since the  United States withdrew from it last year. — AFP/File
The deal has been in jeopardy since the United States withdrew from it last year. — AFP/File

HELSINKI: The European Union will work to preserve the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran and would welcome any moves to add to its conditions, EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said on Friday.

“My role...is to preserve the full implementation of the existing agreements. Again if something else can be built on it, this would be welcomed and accompanied by the European Union,” Mogherini told reporters during an EU foreign ministers meeting in Helsinki.

The deal has been in jeopardy since the United States withdrew from it last year and reimposed economic sanctions on Iran, seeking to push Tehran into wider security concessions including curbs on its ballistic missile programme.

New hope of unblocking the political impasse emerged after Iran’s foreign minister made a flying visit for talks with host France at the G7 summit in Biarritz last Sunday.

“If this new momentum is real, this can build on the work that we have been doing for years,” Mogherini said, referring to the existing treaty with Iran, called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

The 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and international powers aimed to curb Iran’s nuclear activities in exchange for the lifting of many international sanctions on Tehran.

Mogherini declined to answer directly when asked if the United States now demanded that Iran to do more than just going back in line with the existing deal’s commitments.

“Our work is to continue to ensure that there is full compliance from the Iranian side to its nuclear commitments,” she said.

European countries will step up diplomatic efforts to save the beleaguered Iran nuclear deal, Germany’s foreign minister said on Friday after talks with Britain and France.

Tensions have spiked recently in the Gulf, where Iran has seized Western tankers as Tehran and Washington have locked horns over the 2015 deal.

US President Donald Trump last year unilaterally pulled out of the accord that handed Iran relief from sanctions in return for curbs on its atomic programme.

The move alarmed European powers, which see the deal as the best way to stop Iran acquiring nuclear weapons, and infuriated the Islamic republic. The foreign ministers of Britain, France and Germany — the three European parties to the deal — were joined by EU diplomatic chief Federica Mogherini for talks on the sidelines of an EU meeting in Helsinki.

Germany’s Heiko Maas said the trio wanted to build on momentum from last weekend’s G7 summit, where Trump indicated willingness to talk to Iran.

“Our priority is to open the dialogue window between the US and Iran,” Maas told reporters.The Europeans have repeatedly said they are committed to saving the deal, but efforts to shield Iran’s economy from the reimposition of US sanctions have so far borne little fruit.

“We will be discussing further diplomatic efforts together with the French and the British — including in the region with all the countries bordering the Gulf,” Maas said.

Ahead of the meeting, British foreign minister Dominic Raab also said he wanted to “build on the momentum of the positive G7 talks on Iran”.

Published in Dawn, August 31st, 2019