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EghtesadOnline: Iran on Thursday criticized the European response to its decision to scale back some commitments made as part of the 2015 nuclear deal, saying that the EU should fulfill its obligations rather than expecting Tehran to unilaterally implement the agreement.

"Instead of demanding that Iran unilaterally abide by a multilateral accord, EU should uphold obligations—incl normalization of economic ties," Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif wrote on Twitter. 

The European Union on Thursday urged Iran to respect the international agreement and refrain from any "escalatory steps", while adding that the bloc aims to continue trading with the country despite US sanctions, AP reported. 

President Hassan Rouhani said on Wednesday that Iran would no longer implement some parts of the deal, related to curbs on its stockpiling of nuclear materials, and threatened to go further if the remaining signatories fail to shield the country from US President Donald Trump's assault on the Iranian economy within 60 days, according to Financial Tribune.

In a joint statement, the EU and major European powers—Britain, France and Germany—said they "note with great concern the statement made by Iran concerning its commitments" to the nuclear deal, stressing that they "reject any ultimatums" coming from Tehran.

The EU powers also said they "regret the reimposition of sanctions" by the US and remain "determined to continue pursuing efforts to enable the continuation of legitimate trade with Iran".

In a message implicitly directed at the US administration, they said, "We call on countries not party to the JCPOA to refrain from taking any actions that impede the remaining parties' ability to fully perform their commitments." 



EU Inaction

However, Zarif lamented the bloc's inaction in the face of Washington's "bullying" attitude, saying that Europe's response is an example of the problems facing attempts to salvage the pact, officially called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. 

"The EU statement today is why JCPOA is where it is: the US has bullied Europe—and rest of world—for a year and EU can only express 'regret'." 

The Europeans have set up a special financial mechanism to conduct non-dollar trade with Iran and evade possible US sanctions. The workaround, dubbed INSTEX or Instrument in Support of Trade Exchanges, is not yet operational.

The bloc said it plans to push ahead with "the operationalization of the special purpose vehicle". 

The EU has also introduced a so-called "blocking statute" protecting European companies from the effects of US sanctions, but many international corporations do more business in the United States than in Iran and have already severed ties there rather than risk running afoul of Washington.



Matter of Security

At an EU summit in Romania, EU foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, said, "So far, we have seen Iran fully compliant with all its nuclear-related commitments." 

The deal, she said, "is a matter of security for us and for the entire world."

She added that only the International Atomic Energy Agency can judge whether Iran remains in compliance with the nuclear agreement. More than a dozen reports have shown that Tehran is respecting it so far. A new report is due at the end of May. 

French President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday called for the nuclear deal to be extended to cover other issues of concern to the West, such as Iran's regional policies and ballistic missiles. 

Tehran has dismissed western concerns and ruled out negotiations over its defense capabilities.  

"Leaving the 2015 nuclear agreement is a mistake because it is undoing what we have already done. That's why France is remaining and will remain a part of it, and I deeply hope that Iran will remain," Macron said, according to Reuters. 

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the EU wants to avoid an escalation in the dispute and Tehran must recognize that it is in its own interests to remain committed to the deal.


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