Iran, EU try to save nuclear deal

Iran's foreign minister said Sunday he was hopeful of forging a "clear future design" for the nuclear deal facing collapse after Washington's withdrawal, at the start of a diplomatic tour aimed at rescuing the agreement.

White House national security adviser John Bolton said U.S. sanctions on European companies that maintain business dealings with Iran were "possible", while Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said he remained hopeful Washington and its allies could strike a new nuclear deal with Tehran.

Trump's unilateral withdrawal from JCPOA and imposition of sanctions puts the U.S. in immediate violation of the treaty, which says that the sanctions will remain lifted as long as Iran is complying with its terms.

"The consequences of American sanctions go well beyond goods shipped by American companies, " Bolton said.

Germany has acknowledged it could be hard to protect companies doing business with Iran as the U.S. tightens the screws.

The accord lifted global sanctions on Iran in 2016 in return for Tehran shutting down its capacity, under strict surveillance by the United Nations nuclear watchdog, to stockpile enriched uranium for a possible atomic bomb. "It depends on the conduct of other governments".

While withdrawing from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) on May 8, President Donald Trump called the current agreement structure "decaying and rotten". Trump's declaration Monday only requires American banks and companies to stop trading with Iran within 180 days, but the USA may also apply so-called "secondary sanctions" against foreign companies that trade with Iran.

The US, he said, is not going it alone on Iran.

And regardless of Bolton's tough line on potential sanctions, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo suggested there was hope for a new nuclear deal with Iran that could "protect the world".

Mr Johnson said before the meeting: "We will be looking at all the ways we can come up with to protect legitimate United Kingdom and European businesses who may want to trade with Iran, who do want to trade and have great plans to do that".

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Zarif will meet his counterparts from France, Great Britain and Germany.

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.

Iranian hardliners - who have long opposed President Hassan Rouhani's moves to improve ties with the West - are already mobilizing against the efforts to save the nuclear deal.

"I think there's a certain naivete to think, oh, the Iranians are going to be excited about a new deal when we ripped up the old one", Paul said.

A French government official told reporters earlier this week that the US practice of punishing foreign companies operating in foreign countries like Iran "is a real problem".

Tehran's chief diplomat embarked on the tour as regional tensions spiked just days after unprecedented Israeli strikes in Syria which a monitor said killed at least 11 Iranian pro-regime fighters, triggering fears of a broader conflict between the two arch-enemies.

"Yesterday, we witnessed a very risky behavior from the side of the same regime towards Jerusalem", he said while commenting on the expected relocation of the USA embassy. It cited, for instance, Trump's earlier dumping of the Paris climate change agreement with a promise to provide a better deal that he hasn't fulfilled.

"Iran and Russia should guarantee our common interests, which are to preserve the deal and ensure economic benefits for all participants", RIA Novosti news agency quoted Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif as saying on Monday following talks with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov in Moscow.

Mr Zarif failed to win any concrete assurances to help tackle the United States threat of economic sanctions during talks in Beijing on Sunday, and was due in Russian Federation on Monday.

(Copyright © 2015. All Rights Reserved.)
 
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