Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has demanded that the European Union and its members bolster economic links with Tehran as well as providing political support for the July 2015 nuclear deal, following the withdrawal of the Trump Administration.
After a meeting with EU Energy Commissioner Miguel Arias Cañete, Zarif said on Sunday that the EU’s commitment to maintain the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action is not enough, in the face of wider US sanctions and threats against foreign companies trading and investing in Iran. The Europeans “must take more practical steps to boost economic cooperation”, he asserted.
The European Union — including the UK, France, and Germany, all part of the deal — said last week that it will institute sanctions-blocking measures to protect small- and medium-sized firms facing American punishment. However, given the scale of possible financial exposure, it held back from a commitment to the largest and most important arrangements.
French energy giant Total has said that it will not complete a $4.9 billion investment in a phase of the South Pars gas field, the largest in the world, without a waiver of US sanctions. That in turn puts in jeopardy Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh’s goal of $200 billion annual investment in Iran’s energy sector.
Some analysts say that Iran is facing a reduction of its oil exports from 2.5 million barrels per day to about 1.5 million, limiting the key source of revenue for the under-pressure Rouhani Government.
A January 2016 deal for 100 Airbus passenger planes to Iran is still in limbo, and the shipping firm Maersk and German insurance company Allianz are among those who have suspended economic activity with the Islamic Republic.
The Government’s European strategy is caught between Washington and Iran’s hardliners, who have questioned whether the EU and its members are reliable partners. The Supreme Leader has demanded “guarantees” in any talks.
Ayatollah Khamenei’s top aide, Ali Akbar Velayati, said Sunday that a “duplicitous side cannot be trusted”:
Some European officials say they are not supposed to stand up to America and give guarantees.
These contradictions in the comments of European officials raise doubts. We hope that our authorities could get the necessary guarantees in their negotiations.
Iran Rejects Report of Amended Deal
The Iranian Foreign Ministry rejected a report in a German newspaper that the Europeans have presented Tehran with a proposal for an amended nuclear deal.
Citing an unnamed senior EU official, Welt am Sonntag said Friday’s meeting in Vienna will consider revisions.
Before the US withdrawal, European leaders had spent weeks suggesting alterations such as an extension of the term limits in the JCPOA, and a parallel agreement on Iran’s ballistic missile program.
The Iranian regime has publicly rejected any renegotiation, with Zarif slapped down by MPs and hardline opponents earlier this year when reports circulated he had discussed the possibility with the EU in Brussels.
Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Qassemi said on Sunday of the German report:
Such baseless news and claims are rooted in the think tanks of the Zionist media and other international anarchists as well as ill-wishers of the Iranian nation with the purpose of creating a negative atmosphere and diverting the course of dialogue between Iran and other sides in the JCPOA.