The European Union is not doing enough to preserve the benefits for Iran from the 2015 international nuclear pact following the withdrawal of the United States, Iran’s foreign minister told the EU’s energy chief on Sunday.
Miguel Arias Canete, European Commissioner for energy and climate, said Tehran wanted the 28-nation bloc to act fast to preserve its oil trade with Iran, and to consider making direct euro-denominated payments for Iranian oil to Iran’s central bank, bypassing the U.S. financial system.
“With the withdrawal of America .... the European political support for the accord is not sufficient,” Mohammad Javad Zarif told Arias Canete in Tehran.
Since President Donald Trump announced on May 8 that he would pull the United States out of the deal, the U.S. Treasury said Washington would reimpose a wide array of Iran-related sanctions after the expiry of 90- and 180-day wind-down periods, including sanctions aimed at Iran’s oil sector and transactions with its central bank.
The EU leaders have pledged to try to keep Iran’s oil trade and investment flowing, but conceded that would not be easy.
“We have to preserve this agreement so we don’t have to negotiate a new agreement,” Arias Canete told Western journalists after two days of meetings with Iranian officials in Tehran.
“Our message is very clear. This is a nuclear agreement that works.”
Under the deal, Tehran agreed to curb its nuclear work in return for the lifting of most Western sanctions. With the threat of new U.S. sanctions looming over them, some foreign firms have already started signaling their intention to pull back from Iran.
“The announcement of the possible withdrawal by major European companies from their cooperation with Iran is not consistent with the European Union’s commitment to implementing (the nuclear deal),” Zarif was quoted as saying.
He appeared to be referring to announcements by several large European companies last week suggesting their activities in Iran would end or be curtailed because of the reimposition of U.S. sanctions.