EghtesadOnline: The European Union’s top diplomat and the foreign ministers of France, Germany and Britain (E3) expressed regret and concern over recent US decisions against Iran's legitimate oil exports and nuclear activities.
"We … take note with regret and concern of the decision by the United States not to extend waivers with regard to trade in oil with Iran … [and] not to fully renew waivers for nuclear non-proliferation projects in the framework of the JCPOA," a Saturday statement published by the EU's official website read.
US President Donald Trump's administration has been ramping up pressure on Tehran since it pulled out of the 2015 nuclear deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, last year and reimposed sanctions that had been eased under the multinational accord.
Last month, his administration announced it would no longer renew sanctions exemptions that allowed China, India, Japan, Turkey and South Korea to continue importing Iranian oil after their expiration on May 2, according to Financial Tribune.
As another step of its "maximum pressure campaign", it revoked two of the seven sanctions waivers that allow Russia, China and European nations to conduct civilian nuclear cooperation with Iran and extended the other five for 90 days, shorter than the 180 days that had been granted in the past.
The waivers, which were due to expire on Saturday, permit work at several Iranian nuclear sites to continue without US penalties. Under the terms of the nuclear deal, Russia, China and several European states help maintain the facilities.
The revoked exemptions included one that allowed Iran to store excess heavy water produced in the uranium enrichment process in Oman and another that allowed Iran to swap enriched uranium for raw yellowcake with Russia.
One of the extended waivers on the Bushehr Nuclear Power Plant was tightened so that any assistance to expand the plant could incur sanctions.
In the statement, the EU and E3 voiced deep regret about the reimposition of sanctions lifted as an essential part of JCPOA to have a positive impact "not only on trade and economic relations with Iran, but most importantly on the lives of the Iranian people".
Highlighting the global nuclear watchdog's 14 reports that confirm the nuclear deal is delivering on its goal, they emphasized their continued commitment to the landmark deal.
"We remain deeply convinced that JCPOA is key to increasing stability and security in the Middle East," they stressed.
The statement also reiterated the remaining parties' commitment to preserve and maintain financial channels and exports for Iran, together with third countries interested in supporting the accord.
"We are determined to pursue efforts, together with other European partners, to enable the continuation of legitimate trade with Iran, including through the operationalization of the special purpose vehicle 'INSTEX' [Instrument in Support of Trade Exchanges]," it added.
INSTEX is a payment channel designed by the EU and registered by the E3 to bypass US sanctions and facilitate trade with Iran.
It was registered late January after months of delay, but it has not become operational yet.
The stakeholders pledged in the statement to significantly increase their financial contributions to INSTEX’s operational budget.
"We encourage all countries, including Russia and China as JCPOA participants, to make their best efforts to pursue the legitimate trade that the agreement allows for, through concrete steps," the document also read.
On the other hand, the European states once again called on Iran to continue implementing in full its commitments under the nuclear accord and its obligations under the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.