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16 Feb, 2019 14:55

Munich brawl: Pence clashes with Merkel and Mogherini over Iran deal, Russian pipeline

Munich brawl: Pence clashes with Merkel and Mogherini over Iran deal, Russian pipeline

US Vice President Mike Pence went full throttle in Munich as he rolled out a list of Washington's demands to the EU, clashing with Germany's Angela Merkel and Brussels' Federica Mogherini on Iran and Russia.

EU nations must "stop undermining US sanctions" against Iran, Pence told the audience at the annual Munich Security Conference on Saturday, urging European allies to follow the American lead in ditching the deal on the Iranian nuclear program.

He had earlier blasted EU countries for not being "cooperative" with Washington's push to pressure Iran. The US unilaterally pulled out of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) last year, citing mistrust towards the Islamic Republic and accusing it of threatening global security. Iran denied the allegations, while Washington's move was condemned by the EU, China and Russia.

The sanctions imposed on Tehran by the US prompted the EU to devise a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV), a plan to protect European companies dealing with Iran. Speaking in Warsaw, Poland before heading to Munich, Pence warned that this "ill-advised step" will create "more distance" between Washington and the EU.

They call this scheme a Special Purpose Vehicle. We call it an effort to break American sanctions against Iran's murderous revolutionary regime.

EU's foreign affairs chief, Federica Mogherini, was unfazed by Pence's strong-worded warning. After meeting Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in Munich on Friday, she reiterated that the JCPOA "continues to deliver on its objectives and is crucial for both regional and global security," her office stated.

Also on rt.com EU countries move to evade US’ Iran sanctions by setting up payment channel for ‘humanitarian’ trade

In his fiery tirade, the vice president also called on the EU to join Washington in openly backing Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido, who proclaimed himself to be the 'interim president' last month. He also warned NATO allies that the US "will not stand idly by" as they buy weapons from "our adversaries," hinting at the major contract recently signed between Turkey and Moscow for S-400 air defense missile systems.

Pence lashed out at the construction of Nord Stream 2, an underwater Baltic Sea pipeline that will supply Russian gas to Germany. The US "commends" those nations that had "taken a stand" against the project, and urges "others to do the same," Pence stated.

Also on rt.com No way back for Nord Stream 2 pipeline project – Germany

US officials, joined by the Baltic States and nations like Ukraine and Poland, had been arguing that the new pipeline goes against EU interests and will deprive Kiev of collecting lucrative revenue from the transit of Russian gas to Europe. These claims have been strongly rebuffed by Berlin.

It is "right and important" for Europe to "maintain sovereignty" over its energy policy and to have a variety of gas suppliers, Chancellor Angela Merkel said shortly before Mike Pence delivered his remarks. Defending the construction of the pipeline with Russia, she said that pushing Moscow out of the European gas market would be a "wrong strategic signal."

If during the Cold War... we imported large amounts of Russian gas, I don't know why times should be so much worse today that we can say: Russia remains a partner.

"Geostrategically, Europe can't have an interest in cutting off all relations with Russia," the German leader stated