EU Leaders Seek Ways to Keep Iran Deal Alive

- May 16th, 2018

The EU signatories of the 2015 Iran deal met with Iranian officials on Tuesday to hammer out the new caveats to the deal. The US pulled out of the deal last week, leaving many to speculate about the future of the three-year old nuclear pact.

A handful of EU countries have been left to pick up the pieces after the US pulled out of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal last week. While European leaders remain hopeful they will be able to use diplomacy to keep Iran holding its end of the bargain, the deal still remains tentative amid rising global tensions.  

In response to what it deems as an ‘illegal’ decision by the US, Iran has affirmed its stance that it will begin enriching uranium again if an adequate deal is not brokered with the EU signatories.

“If our interests are not preserved, we will pull out of the deal and will resume our enrichment to 20 percent, or any level that we desire to,” a source close with the Iranian government told Reuters.

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In an effort to salvage the now shaky deal, the British French and German foreign ministers met with their Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif, as well as several EU officials on Tuesday (May 15). All sides remained optimistic that a ratified deal was still possible, but the tone was sombre.

“We all agreed that we have a relative in intensive care and we all want to get him or her out of intensive care as quickly as possible,” EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini told Reuters.

Despite all parties being pro-negotiation, there was an elephant that remained in the room. The US threat that it would impose sanctions on countries that continue to do business with Iran weighed heavily in talks.

In his now week old public address which confirmed the US would no longer back the Obama era deal, which saw international sanctions on Iranian exports lifted for Iran’s commitment to denuclearize and not enrich uranium past 4 percent, President Trump denounced the three-year old deal for not being broad enough in its scope.

Over the weekend, John Bolton the US national security adviser, warned European companies could be hit by stringent US sanctions if they defy the Trump administrations call to cut commercial links with Tehran.

The bold statement prompted the European nations to warn they could issue strict measures of their own against the US if their countries and businesses become targets. They include, retaliatory sanctions, euro-denominated credit lines from EU governments and permitting the European Investment Bank to invest in Iran.

“It’s not just about Iran and it’s not just about the business interests of some European companies,” Cornelius Adebahr, an Iran policy expert at the Carnegie Europe think-tank told the press. “It’s about what the transatlantic relationship stands for.”

Trade between EU nations and Iran totals $20 billion euros annually, Iran is the third-largest OPEC nation exporting 777 million barrels of crude oil annually. An international sanction on Iranian exports would create a global oil shortage that other OPEC nations may not be able to make up for.

The price of crude was up 0.17 percent today (May 16) to close at  US$71.43 a barrel.

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Securities Disclosure: I, Georgia Williams, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.

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