Europe sought yesterday to find a way to save the Iran nuclear deal without the United States but was short on details about how the accord could survive the reimposition of US sanctions ordered by President Donald Trump.
British, French and German foreign ministers met the EU’s top diplomat in Brussels ahead of all four discussing the next steps with their Iranian counterpart Mohamed Javad Zarif, a week after Trump abandoned an agreement he branded a “horrible, one-sided deal that should have never, ever been made”.
Seeking to uphold what the European Union had considered its biggest diplomatic achievement in decades, the 2015 accord rests on allowing business with Iran in exchange for Tehran shutting down any capacity to build an atomic bomb.
Britain’s Foreign Minister Boris Johnson was blunt about the chances of avoiding US sanctions that also seek to prohibit foreign companies from doing business with Iran. “We have to be realistic about the electrified rail, the live wire of American extraterritoriality and how (it) can serve as a deterrent to business,” Johnson told reporters.
Highlighting just how difficult it will be, the US Treasury announced yesterday more sanctions, including on Iran’s central bank governor, just minutes before the Brussels meeting was due to begin.
EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, who held a meeting with Zarif earlier in the day, said there could be no guarantees made to Iran but stressed there were measures the bloc could take. Germany’s Heiko Maas echoed that view.
But none of the four, when pressed by reporters, gave any details of their plans.
Johnson spoke of the search for a “package of measures.” Zarif said European powers must give Iran guarantees that it will get the economic benefits of the deal, warning there was not much time for them to deliver those assurances.
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