EU urges Iran to remain in nuclear pact, regrets US sanctions

EU urges Iran to remain in nuclear pact, regrets US sanctions
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The European Union (EU) on Thursday issued a statement urging Iran to remain in the landmark 2015 nuclear pact after the Islamic Republic declared Wednesday it would stop complying with parts of the deal.

The EU and the foreign ministers of Britain, France and Germany said they “note with great concern the statement made by Iran concerning its commitments” to the agreement, but said they “reject any ultimatums” after Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said the nation would take action unless other signatories to the pact began selling Iranian oil despite the threat of U.S. sanctions.


The statement comes as the deal’s backers seek to salvage the agreement reached under former President Obama.

President TrumpDonald John TrumpWatergate prosecutor says that Sondland testimony was 'tipping point' for Trump In private moment with Trump, Justice Kennedy pushed for Kavanaugh Supreme Court nomination: book Obama: 'Everybody needs to chill out' about differences between 2020 candidates MORE withdrew the U.S. from the deal last year and the pact was thrust into further uncertainty this week amid heightened tensions between Washington and Tehran.

“We remain fully committed to the preservation and full implementation” of the agreement, the EU said.

Trump pulled the U.S. out of the agreement last May, saying it did not adequately curb Iran’s missile program or stop the country’s support for militant groups in the Middle East. He also slapped on an additional round of sanctions Thursday on the country's steel, iron, aluminum and copper sectors after Rouhani's Wednesday announcement.

“Iran must remain in this agreement and we must do everything we can to ensure that it stays in,” French President Emmanuel MacronEmmanuel Jean-Michel MacronFrance's Macron exposes profound shifts in global strategic priorities World leaders to gather in Israel for fight against anti-Semitism forum Putin is making a move while America is distracted MORE told reporters at an EU summit in Romania, according to The Associated Press, warning signatories to not “get caught up in any escalation.”

The world powers said in the statement they “regret the re-imposition of sanctions” by the U.S. and remain “determined to continue pursuing efforts to enable the continuation of legitimate trade with Iran.”

“We call on countries not party to the [deal] to refrain from taking any actions that impede the remaining parties’ ability to fully perform their commitments,” the EU powers said, appearing to directly reference the U.S. 

Rouhani declared Tehran would begin to build its stockpiles of low-enriched uranium and issued a 60-day ultimatum Wednesday to signatories of the deal to devise a plan to offset sanctions from Washington before any further action was taken.

Internal pressure is rising on the Iranian president to bolster the idea that Iran can benefit from an arrangement trading economic benefits for limiting nuclear development as the levies take a toll on the nation’s economy. 

European signatories already have a preliminary barter-type system in place to avoid direct financial transactions with Iran that could violate possible U.S. sanctions. The plan, called INSTEX, is not yet operational, but the EU said it plans on forging ahead with “the operationalization of the special purpose vehicle ‘INSTEX.' ”

The EU has also implemented measures that would protect European companies doing business in Iran from being penalized under U.S. sanctions, but many corporations that do more business with the U.S. have already curtailed their activities in the nation, opting to avoid drawing Washington’s ire.

Several reports have already indicated that Iran remains complaint with the 2015 nuclear arrangement. A new report is due at the end of this month.