Iran warns it may exit nuclear deal if Trump continues to scare off investors

Iran warns it may exit nuclear deal if Trump continues to scare off investors
Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Aragchi (left) seen with Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in 2015 aboard a plane bound for JCPOA negotiations in Vienna.
By bne IntelliNews February 22, 2018

Iran may abandon its nuclear accord with world powers if the Trump administration continues to frighten off international banks and foreign investors that might otherwise do business with the Islamic Republic, Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi said in a February 22 speech in London.

Araghchi referred to a US “policy of confusion and uncertainty” that was scaring away banks and investors and said Tehran could not describe the two-year-old nuclear deal as a “success story” because Iran is not benefiting sufficiently from the lifting of crippling economic sanctions that the agreement delivered.

“I don’t think the deal can survive” if the US administration maintains this policy, Bloomberg reported Araghchi as saying. Iran “cannot remain in a deal in which there is no benefit for us,” he reportedly added. Iran maintains that under the deal the US is actually forbidden from warning business against trading and investing with the Iranians.

The essential objective of the accord, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), is to put in place measures that bar Iran's way to the development of a nuclear weapon.

US President Donald Trump has said he would scrap American participation in the nuclear accord and reimpose major sanctions unless European allies align with Washington “in fixing significant flaws in the deal”. EU powers, most particularly the UK, France and Germany, have in effect been given a deadline of May 12 to make sufficient progress in adjusting the JCPOA as that is the next time Trump is scheduled to decide whether to waive the sanctions. The waiver allows Iran, for instance, to engage in the oil exports absolutley indispensable to its economy.

Trump has insisted the other signatories to the nuclear deal join him in pushing the Iranians to adjust its provisions even though the US is the only signatory claiming that Iran is not in full compliance with the multilateral agreement.

In further comments made in a BBC interview on February 22, Aragchi described the nuclear deal as at a "critical moment". Trump's derogatory remarks about the deal were undermining it and this was preventing Iran's economy from improving, he said, adding: "Most of it is because of this atmosphere of uncertainty which President Trump has created out, around JCPOA, which prevents all big companies and banks to work with Iran, it's a fact, and it's a violation by the United States."

Washington is pushing hard for Iran to be forced to scale down its ballistic missile development programme and European allies have shown signs of agreeing to link this objective to talks on preserving the nuclear deal, but Tehran insists that as the programme is not designed to produce a missile capable of carrying a nuclear payload it has nothing to do with the JCPOA. Nevetheless, Aragchi said in his interview: "Another deal on any other issue depends on how successful is the [JCPOA] deal that we have already made, and we have remained fully compliant to that, and the other side has not fully complied. If the JCPOA becomes a successful experience for Iran, then they are allowed to ask us for any other issues to negotiate this."

On February 22, US media reported that they had seen a confidential quarterly assessment from the United Nations atomic watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), that concluded that Iran remained in compliance with the deal.