Published: Wed, May 16, 2018
People | By Leon Thompson

Britain says Europe seeking to protect legitimate business with Iran

Britain says Europe seeking to protect legitimate business with Iran

"Europeans should not have to pay for USA withdrawal from an agreement".

Iran Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said he hoped for a "clear future design" of the deal as he began a series of diplomatic tours aimed at rescuing the agreement. European Union leaders will then take up Iran at an informal dinner in Sofia the following day.

Merkel is set to visit Russian Federation and meet Putin in the Black Sea resort of Sochi on Friday, while French President Emmanuel Macron will be in Saint Petersburg later this month for an economic forum.

The flurry of activity between the European signatories of the 2015 accord with Iran reflects the lack of an alternative to the deal.

Meanwhile, European diplomats in Tehran fumed that Trump's decision to withdraw from the nuclear deal could undermine years of patient work to restore commercial and diplomatic ties with the Islamic Republic. "Iran took advantage of the lifting of the sanctions [under the agreement] in order to step up its destabilization of the region and its support for terror organizations in our region, including Hizbullah and the Houthi militias".

Saudi Arabia then called on the rest of the global community to "take a firm and uniform stand vis-à-vis Iran and its hostile activities, which destabilize the region; vis-à-vis its support for terror organizations, particularly Hizbullah and the Houthi militia; and vis-à-vis its support for the regime of [Syrian President Bashar Al-] Assad, that has committed the most loathsome crimes against its own people, leading to the deaths of over half a million civilians, including by means of chemical weapons".

"If the remaining five countries in the deal live up to their commitments and guarantee Iran's interests, the agreement will survive", he said during a meeting with visiting Sri Lanka President Maithripala Sirisena.

He added that he believes Iran "never made a strategic decision to give up nuclear weapons".

Iran's talks with European countries to save the nuclear deal are on the right path despite the U.S. withdrawal, its foreign minister said after meeting the European Union's foreign policy chief on Tuesday. "There is no plan B", he said.

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The Iran deal is not dead-not entirely.

In a phone call dominated by Iran, the Prime Minister and President agreed to hold talks between the United Kingdom and USA governments on the effect ofsanctions on British companies. China is the biggest buyer of Iranian oil.

"The UK and our European partners continue to view the nuclear deal as vital for our shared security, and remain fully committed to upholding it", British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said ahead of the talks.

"Why would any business, why would the shareholders of any business, want to do business with the world's central banker of worldwide terrorism?"

For weeks, the State Department has been working to bolster security at U.S. diplomatic posts around the Muslim world in advance of the embassy move, anticipating possible violence even as administration officials say the issue no longer galvanises the Mideast the way it once did.

Within minutes of the President's announcement, Mrs May, French president Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel issued a joint statement expressing their "regret and concern". And in worldwide fora, Iran could use European arguments against Washington to paint American concerns about Iran's behavior as politically charged. Paris-based Total SA, for example, the only Western energy major investing in Iran, has pledged $1 billion in investment in the South Pars natural gas field, and has already spent $90 million helping to develop it. In 2015, French lender BNP Paribas was slapped with a $9 billion fine after USA prosecutors accused it of violating sanctions against Iran as well as Sudan and Cuba.

The Weekly Standard reported yesterday that the Trump administration and members of Congress are considering a proposal from the Foundation of Defense of Democracies' Richard Goldberg that involves threatening European countries with protectionist trade tariffs on steel and aluminum if Europe tries to shield its companies' business with Iran.

A spokesperson for May's office said, "The Prime Minister made clear that the United Kingdom condemns the Iranian missile attacks against Israeli forces and called on Iran to refrain from any further attacks".

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