Talks to save JCPOA 'on right track', Zarif says


As Bloomberg writes in an article "Iran Calls for Clarity Over Nuclear Deal After Talks With China", the meeting with Wang Yi in Beijing, at China's invitation, is Zarif's first stop on a diplomatic tour after President Donald Trump withdrew from the 2015 deal to limit Iran's nuclear program and threatened to reimpose the "highest level" of financial sanctions on the Islamic Republic.

Zarif, after a closed-door meeting with Mogherini in Brussels, said: "My meeting with Mogherini was good and constructive".

"If the nuclear deal is to continue, the interests of the people of Iran must be assured", he added.

But while Pompeo talked up the prospect of renewed coordination with America's allies, another top aide reminded Europe its companies could face sanctions if they continue to do business with the Middle Eastern power. The issue will likely be a focus of discussions between the Iranian and European foreign ministers in Brussels.

Following talks with British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson in London, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said on May 14 that France, Britain, and Germany were "determined" to save the Iranian nuclear deal.

Donald Trump's decision to withdraw the United States from the nuclear program deal cast a shadow of uncertainty over global oil supplies and increased the risk of conflict in the Middle East.

Trump hit back Saturday evening, tweeted that the accord had failed to contain Iran's militarism.

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Al Jazeera's Zein Basravi, reporting from Tehran, said Zarif's tour was an attempt to "salvage the nuclear deal and keep it on life support".

"We will see how (European countries) would guarantee that Iran's interests will be protected if Teheran remains in the agreement", said the Iranian Foreign Minister.

"Let's not fool ourselves that there are dozens of things we can do", said a senior European diplomat.

He said Iran was "respecting" the terms of the agreement, "so we are going to stick to this agreement". It's unclear how well the measure could be enforced, given that big multinationals are likely to be doing more business in the United States than they are in Iran and may be unwilling to compromise that market access.

China was closely involved in negotiating the agreement as one of the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council and has always been a close Iranian economic partner, buying about a third of Iran's oil shipments. "This is why we need to cooperate in protecting our legitimate interests".

Iranian hardliners - who have long opposed President Hassan Rouhani's moves to improve ties with the West - are already mobilising against the efforts to save the nuclear deal.

But the measures have never been used and may be hard to enforce, while European Union companies could still face asset seizures, fines and possibly criminal charges in the United States.