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20 May, 2018 14:23

EU companies may withdraw from Iran, words of support for nuclear deal not enough – FM Zarif

Iranian FM Javad Zarif told the EU energy chief that the bloc must take “practical steps” to strengthen economic ties with Tehran after Washington’s withdrawal from the nuclear deal, saying that “political support” was not enough.

“With the withdrawal of America, [Iran’s] public expectations of the European Union have increased in order to maintain the deal’s gains, and in the current context, the European political support for the accord is not sufficient,” Zarif said as he met Miguel Arias Canete, the EU’s energy commissioner, in Tehran on Sunday, the IRNA news agency reports.

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To provide real support to Tehran, European countries should ramp up economic co-operation and increase investment in the country, Zarif said. While EU member states have expressed their continued commitment to the 2015 nuclear deal, known officially as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), he suggested that ongoing developments signal otherwise.

“The announcement of the possible withdrawal by major European companies from their co-operation with Iran is not consistent with the European Union's commitment to implementing [the nuclear deal],” Iran’s top diplomat said.

Washington’s move to withdraw from the JCPOA “has created problems for Europe,” the EU energy commissioner told his host. Canete said the bloc was committed to implementing and maintaining the deal, as well as continuing to cooperate with Iran.

Donald Trump withdrew the US from the landmark JCPOA agreement on May 8, despite repeated warnings from Tehran, Moscow and Europe against doing so. Trump explained his decision to leave the deal by reference to “flaws” in the document, which should be “fixed.” The announcement was followed by a batch of sanctions against Iranian individuals and entities, issued by the US Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control, along with threats to impose more.

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