'Plan B': Tehran Gives European Powers One Week to Salvage Nuclear Deal

Sergio Conner
May 26, 2018

Under the landmark accord, Iran had accepted limits on its nuclear programme in exchange for relief from worldwide trade, oil and banking sanctions.

The latest assessment from the IAEA comes after US President Donald Trump withdrew the United States from the accord earlier this month, putting its future in jeopardy.

The ayatollah said European banks "must guarantee business transactions with the Islamic Republic", even in the face of USA sanctions.

Top diplomats from China, Russia, France, Germany, and the United Kingdom are meeting with Iranian counterparts in Vienna today to discuss the fate of the nuclear deal.

"We got the sense that Europeans, Russia and China. are serious and they recognise that JCPOA's survival depends on the interests of Iran being respected", Araghchi added.

The talks between senior officials aimed at fleshing out the package of measures to keep oil and investments flowing.

Proposals to engineer financial channels around sanctions have been met with skepticism by European Union states which are also trying to negotiate trade disputes with the Trump administration that could threaten USA exports worth more than $435 billion.

A Foreign Office spokesman said: "We have raised with the USA the need to make allowance for continued economic ties between Europe and Iran".

He said European measures would need in large part to ensure that oil exports remained the same and that the SWIFT worldwide payments messaging system continued to work for Iran.

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Remarkably, Pompeo made no concessions to European leaders who want to salvage the nuclear deal and continue relations with Iran. She also explained that Europeans are still unsure of the USA rationale for leaving the deal.

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"We do not resume [uranium] enrichment at 20 percent purity now, however, you should be ready to resume activities which were restricted under the JCPOA if the JCPOA is no more useful", he said.

Nations that remain in the agreement meet on Friday for the first time since Trump left the pact, but diplomats see limited scope for salvaging it. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo threatened Iran on Monday with "the strongest sanctions in history" if it did not change its behaviour in the Middle East. But European diplomats involved in the efforts acknowledge uncertainty about whether that would be enough.

Since the USA pull-out, the other signatories have embarked on a diplomatic marathon to try to keep the agreement afloat.

"If the Europeans hesitate in responding to our demands, Iran is entitled to resuming its nuclear activities", he said in a statement. They will also want assurances that all parties will continue to buy Iranian oil.

The 2015 accord rests on lifting sanctions and allowing business with Iran in exchange for Tehran curbing its nuclear program. Some Western companies have already quit Iran or said they may have to leave because of the new USA sanctions.

Trump denounced the accord, completed under his predecessor Barack Obama, partly because it did not cover Iran's ballistic missile development programme, its role in Middle East conflicts or what happens after the deal begins to expire in 2025.

Khamenei said Iran reserves the right to expand its nuclear program beyond the limits of the accord unless European banks facilitate trade and Europeans provide assurances that they will buy Iranian oil if the USA attempts to disrupt crude sales.

While European nations share those concerns, they have said that as long as Tehran meets its commitments, they would remain in the deal.

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