With comprehensive US sanctions approaching, Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif (pictured) has appealed again to Europe to help salvage the Iranian economy.
Zarif told the German news magazine Der Spiegel on Saturday, “The Europeans and the other signatories must act in order to compensate for the effects of the US sanctions.”
He declared that the European parties to the nuclear deal must decide if they want to submit to US pressure, and they must decide if they are ready to let deeds follow their words of support for the agreement.
In May, Donald Trump announced American withdrawal from the 2015 deal between Iran and the 5+1 Powers (US, UK, France, Germany, China, and Russia). Already-extensive sanctions were expanded, with full imposition — including on Tehran’s energy and financial sectors — from November 5.
The Rouhani Government has tried to confirm trade and investment links, notably with European countries, to offset the restrictions. However, the European Union has been unable to provide guarantees for large companies against US punishment, leading many of them to suspend or draw down their business with Iran.
Last month the Supreme Leader ordered the Government to halt direct negotiations with the European Union on economic links, until Europe showed a willingness to provide assurances.
Zarif said on Saturday that Tehran might take some action if “the balance of give and take were destroyed” over the litmus test of “oil and banks”. But he added that this does not mean Iran’s withdrawal from the nuclear agreement, saying partial or reduced implementation of its terms are a possibility.
Iran’s economy is facing serious difficulties, including issues of production, investment, trade, and employment. The Iranian rial has fallen 70% against the US dollar, feeding a resurgence of inflation to more than 20%.
The Rouhani Government had brought inflation down to single digits from a high of more than 40% in 2013.
The rial has sunk to an all-time low this month, falling another 5% to 144,000:1 against the US dollar.
The currency stood at 45,000:1 — already a historical weak point — in January.
Falls in the past week have wiped out a brief 10% recovery after Government intervention earlier this month when the rial closed on the 140,000:1 mark.