EghtesadOnline: Recent consultations between Iran and France on how to salvage the 2015 nuclear deal can be considered "a step forward", although it is still uncertain whether Iran can eventually enjoy the benefits of the agreement, an Iranian expert on European affairs said.
"If Europeans are forced to choose between Iran and the United States, this will complicate the situation," Pirouz Izadi said in a recent interview with ISNA.
The nuclear deal is on the verge of falling apart, as a result of a standoff between Iran and the United States.
Washington exited the accord, formally called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, last year and reimposed sweeping sanctions on Tehran. Iran reacted after a year by gradually reducing its commitments under the deal, Financial Tribune reported.
European countries have been trying to mediate between the two, with French President Emmanuel Macron engaging in ongoing dialogue with Iranian authorities.
He met Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on Friday in Paris ahead of the G7 summit where he made proposals aimed at de-escalating the tensions and rescuing the deal.
Macron offered to either soften sanctions on Iran or provide a compensation mechanism in return for Tehran’s full compliance with the pact. Zarif later described the talks as "constructive".
However, Izadi noted that the matter of utmost importance to Iran is how these consultations can lead to a practical solution to ensure Iran can reap the rewards of the deal, "in a way that Iran can sell its oil and import essential goods, whether sanctioned or non-sanctioned".
Based on past experience, they are more likely to take the US side when forced to choose, he added.
"In their implementation of JCPOA, Europeans care for their commercial and security interests and will definitely not move in a direction that would threaten these interests."
European companies, according to Izadi, also naturally tend to protect their good relations with the US and prevent any risk to their interests within this framework.
Abdolreza Faraji-Rad, a former Iranian diplomat, told ISNA that Europe is making attempts but cautiously, because it is concerned about US sanctions.
"What is certain is that the conditions have changed … Negotiations are progressing positively and seem to have achieved relative success," he added.
Asked about Zarif's recent tour of Scandinavian countries, he noted that the visits could help win more support for Iran against US hawkish policies.
"Zarif's trip could soften their stance toward INSTEX compared to the past," he said.
INSTEX (Instrument in Support of Trade Exchanges) is a European initiative to facilitate trade by eliminating the US dollar and bypassing the sanctions. Washington, however, is making efforts to disrupt the system.
“If the number of European countries that invest in the mechanism grows, it would be harder for the US to sanction them,” Faraji-Rad explained.
Northern European countries have a strong naval fleet and the US will more likely press them to join its proposed military coalition in the Persian Gulf to protect shipping lines in the strategic waters.
Iran's negotiations can also convince these countries to refuse to join the alliance, according to the analyst.
Washington proposed to launch the mission after blaming Iran for several attacks on oil tankers in the Persian Gulf.