World powers back Iran oil exports despite US sanctions threat
HANS PUNZ (APA/AFP)
Iran's remaining partners in the 2015 nuclear deal vowed Friday to keep the energy exporter plugged into the global economy despite the US withdrawal and sanctions threat.
Three European nations along with Russia and China met with Iran to offer economic benefits and assurances that would lessen the blow of sweeping US sanctions, two months after President Donald Trump walked away from the landmark nuclear deal.
They said they remained committed to the 2015 accord and to building up economic relations with Iran, including "the continuation of Iran's export of oil and gas" and other energy products.
Their foreign ministers agreed on an 11-point list of joint goals in Vienna, where the accord was signed three years ago with the aim of stopping Iran from building the atomic bomb in return for sanctions relief that promised greater trade and investment.
In the joint statement, Iran's Mohammad Javad Zarif and other top diplomats reconfirmed their commitment to the deal and its "economic dividends" for Iran, which has suffered worsening financial turbulence since Trump abandoned the accord.
"What I noticed during this meeting is that all the members, even the three allies, have committed and have the political will to take action and resist the United States," Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif told a press conference, broadcast by Fars news agency, after his talks in Vienna.
- 'Protect companies from sanctions' -
Despite the US threat to penalize companies and banks that do business with Iran, the remaining signatories said they would work to promote investment and trade.
They also vowed to maintain financial channels, promote export credit cover and air, sea and overland transport links, and to work for the "the protection of companies from the extraterritorial effects of US sanctions".
"These initiatives are aimed at preserving the nuclear deal which is in the security interest of all," said the joint statement read out by EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini.
There was no immediate separate statement from Iran, which on the eve of the talks had signaled disappointment about the measures then on the table.
Iran's President Hassan Rouhani had Thursday told French President Emmanuel Macron by phone that the European offer of economic measures did "not meet all our demands", Iran's state news agency IRNA reported.
- 'Difficult situation' -
Since Trump's shock move in May, which dismayed all other signatories, Washington has warned other countries to end trade and investment in Iran and stop buying its oil from early November or face punitive measures.
On Thursday, the US and Iran exchanged threats over the oil dispute, with the Hormuz Strait being at the center of attention.
A US Navy Central Command spokesman said that navy is ready to secure the flow of commerce in the Persian Gulf, following threats from Iran’s Revolutionary Guard (IRGC) to block the regions oil export going through the trafficked Hormuz Strait.
The IRGC’s threat came in response to US President Trump’s call for an international blockade on Iran’s oil export last week.
Major General Soleimani, the head of IRGC, sent a letter to President Rouhani on Thursday, praising his statement on Tuesday, where he slammed the US for putting pressure on Iran’s oil.
“The Americans have claimed they want to completely stop Iran’s oil exports. They don’t understand the meaning of this statement, because it is nonsense that Iran’s oil is not (allowed to be) exported, while the region’s oil is exported,” Rouhani said.
Another senior IRGC commander, Mohammad Ali Jafari, also welcomed Rouhani’s statement, suggesting that it would block the Hormuz Strait.
“We are hopeful that this plan expressed by our president will be implemented if needed ... We will make the enemy understand that either all can use the Strait of Hormuz or no one,” Jafari said.
The threats by Iran’s President and the IRGC were met by a strong response from the US Central Command spokesman, Navy Captain Bill Urban, who in an email to Reuters vowed that the US will secure freedom of navigation in the Hormuz Strait.
“Together, we stand ready to ensure the freedom of navigation and the free flow of commerce wherever international law allows. The U.S. and its partners provide, and promote security and stability in the region,” Urban said.
The tension between Iran and the US grew even further following President Trump’s actions to hit the Islamic Republic’s oil income.
On Monday, Saudi Arabia announced that it was ready to raise its oil production, thus welcoming President Trump’s request to the kingdom.
"The kingdom is prepared to utilize its spare production capacity when necessary to deal with any future changes in the levels of supply and demand," a statement from the Saudi cabinet said on Monday according to Saudi Press Agency (SPA).
Friday's statement from the remaining signatories to the 2015 JCPOA, which promised to let Iran export oil, might help ease the economic pressure on the Islamic Republic.
Securing Iran's oil flow is vital, especially in light of the long list of European companies that are canceling major contracts in order to avoid any clashes with the US.
The remaining signatories to the deal so far appear powerless to stop their countries' companies pulling out of Iran for fear of US penalties. Several major firms -- including France's Total and Peugeot, and Russia's Lukoil -- have said they are preparing to leave.
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas conceded that "we won't be able to compensate for all the effects of enterprises withdrawing from Iran because they see their American business interests threatened by the sanctions".
"After the withdrawal of the United States, which we can't understand, we face a difficult situation," he added, but he stressed that "we want to make clear to Iran that it will still gain economic benefits through this agreement".
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eurotrash Nazi scum will do anything to whore themselves to the country that wants to commit the next Jewish Holocaust. 3000 years of atrocities against Jews and counting. I just hope Trump followed through and cuts off all weird forms doing business with Iran. Terrorist Iran or the US? we see the choice the Euro scum have decided on.
The EU support Shia Theofascism.