EghtesadOnline: The European Union and the bloc’s powers on Friday rejected an appeal by the US for Europeans to withdraw from the Iranian nuclear deal and join its “maximum pressure” drive against Tehran.
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas defended the 2015 agreement under which Iran scaled back its nuclear program in return for sanctions relief, AFP reported.
EU foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, said the bloc is determined to preserve the “full implementation” of the deal, saying it is vital to European security.
“Together with the Brits, French and the entire EU, we have found ways to keep Iran in the nuclear agreement until today,” Maas told the Munich Security Conference, according to Financial Tribune.
A day earlier, US Vice President Mike Pence censured Iran for its opposition to Israel and its support for Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and Yemen. He also criticized the leading European states for adopting measures to undermine the US sanctions against Tehran and urged them to follow in Washington’s footsteps and abandon the nuclear accord.
Maas said, “Our goal remains an Iran without nuclear weapons."
Without this agreement, “the region will not be safer and would actually be one step closer to an open confrontation,” he added.
Tehran denies the western allegation that its nuclear program could have military aspects and stresses that it is totally focused on civilian applications. It also says that its presence in some regional countries is at the request of their governments to help the fight against militants and terrorists who threaten regional peace and security.
Speaking at the same conference, Mogherini said the deal must be preserved, insisting that for Europe “it’s a matter of security”.
“So you can count on the fact the European Union and its member states will continue to serve the interests of security and non-proliferation ... preserving the full implementation” of the deal, Mogherini said.
The French Foreign Ministry also reaffirmed Paris’ commitment to upholding the nuclear pact, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, and facilitating commercial transactions with Iran in defiance of Pence’s demand.
Tasnim News Agency cited an unnamed spokesperson for the ministry as saying, “France is committed to the implementation of the JCPOA, in respect of international agreements and international security. It will continue to support the JCPOA, which was unanimously endorsed by UN Security Council Resolution 2231, as long as Iran abides by all of its nuclear obligations.”
The French diplomat added, “France and its E3 partners [Germany and Britain] support an approach that includes the long-term management of the Iranian nuclear program, as well as the limitation of its missile program and [alleged] destabilizing regional activities. On February 4 [referring to a comprehensive statement by the EU on Iran], all of the EU member states asserted the need for a comprehensive, balanced approach toward Iran.”
Speaking at a conference on the Middle East in Warsaw on Thursday, Pence denounced the retention by Europeans of the nuclear agreement.
He also criticized the E3 initiative to allow European companies to continue operating in Iran despite US sanctions.
On Jan. 31, the three European powers launched a long-awaited special trade mechanism, known as the Instrument in Support of Trade Exchanges, to facilitate non-dollar trade with Iran and help the country circumvent US restrictions.
Pence said the scheme is “an effort to break American sanctions against Iran”.
“It is an ill-advised step that will only strengthen Iran, weaken the EU and create still more distance between Europe and the United States,” he contended.
On the sidelines of Munich Security Conference, Mogherini met on Friday with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif to discuss the state of implementation of the nuclear agreement, according to a statement posted on the website of the European External Action Service.
“The High Representative [Mogherini] reiterated the EU’s firm determination to preserve the JCPOA, which continues to deliver on its objectives and is crucial for both regional and global security,” the statement said.
“She also underlined the need for continued full and effective implementation of the deal by all parties, and in this regard both High Representative Mogherini and Minister Zarif discussed the recent registration of INSTEX in France and committed to work together for its further operationalization.”
The top diplomats also exchanged views on a number of other issues, from human rights to the implementation of Iran’s FATF action plan, to regional crises, including in Syria, Yemen and Afghanistan.
Iran is in the process of implementing reforms to bring its banking practices into line with the standards set by the Financial Action Task Forces, an inter-governmental organization that underpins the fight against money laundering and terrorist financing.