US lawmakers signalling Americans to stick with Iran nuclear deal, says EU foreign policy chief

US lawmakers signalling Americans to stick with Iran nuclear deal, says EU foreign policy chief
EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini was encouraged by what she heard from US lawmakers as regards Washington's commitment to the multilateral nuclear deal signed with Iran in late 2015.
By bne IntelliNews November 7, 2017

The European Union’s foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said on November 7 that US lawmakers have signalled that they intend to ensure the US sticks with the Iran nuclear deal despite President Donald Trump's warnings that it must be altered to stand a chance of obtaining his endorsement and agreement that the Americans should continue to participate in it.

Speaking at a press briefing in Washington, Mogherini said: “I got clear indications that the intention is to keep the United States compliant with the agreement.”

Trump on October 13 refused to recertify White House recognition that Tehran is complying with the accord—known formally as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)—even though all the major powers that signed the deal, apart from the US, insist that it is, while the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has eight times certified compliance, and Trump's own secretary of state and Pentagon chief have indicated that they presently feel it is in the best interests of the US to stick with the multilateral agreement.

Under the JCPOA, Iran agreed to inspections that prevent it moving towards developing a nuclear weapon in return for the lifting of economic sanctions that crippled its oil, gas, petrochemical and other key export-geared industries.

Trump has given Congress until mid-December to decide whether to reimpose sanctions lifted under the deal.

Mogherini stopped short of entering the debate as to what kind of legislation, acceptable to Iran and all the JCPOA signatories, could be introduced by Congress to address Trump's objections to the deal, which essentially amount to 'fix it or nix it'.

“I made it clear that any outcome of any process—that is an internal process which as such has to be respected—has to be, at the end of the day, compliant with the deal,” she told reporters.

Iran asks EU for more proactive commitment
At a conference in Paris, meanwhile, according to Reuters, a senior Iranian official, who declined to be identified, said that Europe must make clear how it will react if the US pulls out of the nuclear accord. He also called on the EU to do more to encourage international banks to return to the Islamic Republic.

Tehran expected Europe to be more proactive in explaining what its stance would be should Trump axe US participation in the JCPOA, the official reportedly said. “If they want to wait until Trump decides to make a decision it will be too late,” the official said, speaking in English. “For the time being we are hearing from Europe that they want to stick to [the nuclear deal], but if Trump decides otherwise they have no other ammunition.”

The lack of big multinational banks returning to Iran is a “deficiency”, the official also remarked. Europe had committed under the nuclear accord to normalise business ties with Iran, but that commitment had still not been realised, he said.

When [French energy major] Total comes to Iran to sign an agreement with Iranian entities [to develop part of the giant South Pars gas field in the Persian Gulf] they do not use French banks. They use others. Why?”

Global banks connected to the American financial system are wary of exposing themselves to unilateral sanctions imposed by Washington by dealing with Iranian transactions. Trade and investment transactions with Iran in dollars are forbidden by the US on pain of sanctions.