Economy, Business And Markets

Europe Should Deliver on Business Ties

Tehran expects Europe to be more proactive in clarifying its stance, should the United States pull out of the nuclear deal
Majid Takht-RavanchiMajid Takht-Ravanchi
European capitals need to stick to their commitments “not just in words but in practice”

Europe must make clear how it will react if the United States pulls out of the multinational nuclear deal with Iran and do more to encourage international banks to return to the country, said Iran's Deputy Foreign Minister Majid Takht-Ravanchi on Tuesday.

Last month, US President Donald Trump broke ranks with European allies, Russia and China by refusing to recertify Iran’s compliance with its 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, reached during Barack Obama’s tenure.

The Republican president gave the US Congress 60 days to decide whether to reimpose economic sanctions on Iran, lifted under the pact in exchange for scaling down Tehran's program.

European leaders say they are determined to keep alive the accord that offered Iran an economic lifeline and opened new investment opportunities for European businesses.

But the Iranian official said Tehran expected Europe to be more proactive in explaining its stance should the United States pull out, Reuters reported.

“If they want to wait until Trump decides to make a decision, it will be too late,” the official said. “For the time being, we are hearing from Europe that they want to stick to (the nuclear deal), but if Trump decides otherwise, they have no other ammunition.”

“It is important for European countries to work with Iran,” the officials said, adding that European capitals need to stick to their commitments “not just in words but in practice”.

> Lack of Big Banks' Return a "Deficiency"

The official described the lack of big multinational banks returning to Iran as a “deficiency”, saying that Europe had committed as part of the deal to normalize business ties with Iran, which he said was still not the case.

“When Total comes to Iran to sign an agreement with Iranian entities, they do not use French banks. They use others. Why?”

The official reiterated that Iran would not be first to leave the deal and accused the Trump White House of deliberately creating uncertainty for foreign firms eying new investments in Iran.

“We consider the American approach to the JCPOA (nuclear agreement) as dishonest,” the official said in a conference in Paris.

EU leaders, who lobbied to stop Trump from withholding his support for the deal, met in Brussels last month and afterward released a statement reaffirming the bloc’s “full commitment” to the 2015 agreement.

The EU has said it would keep European sanctions suspended, as long as Iran sticks by its commitments under the deal.

“We fully stay committed to the complete implementation by all sides of the Iranian nuclear deal. We see this as a key security interest for the European Union and the region,” said the bloc’s top diplomat, Federica Mogherini.

She has pointed out that no single country has the right to terminate the nuclear deal. The US president “has many powers”, Mogherini said earlier. “Not this one.”

Mogherini has said any US decision to unilaterally pull out of the nuclear deal is an “internal process”.

“The European Union considers President Trump’s decision not to certify Iran’s compliance with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action as being in the context of an internal US process. The European Union encourages the United States to maintain its commitment to the JCPOA and to consider the implications for the security of the United States, its partners and the region before taking further steps,” reads a statement posted on the European External Action Service.

Mogherini plans to visit the United States in November to try and persuade administration officials not to abandon the Iran nuclear agreement.

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the Trump administration is not seeking to disrupt European business deals with Iran.

“The president’s been pretty clear that it’s not his intent to interfere with business deals that the Europeans may have underway with Iran,” Tillerson said in an interview in his State Department office last month. “He’s said it clearly: ‘That’s fine. You guys do what you want to do’. We’ve been working with the Europeans for six months,” he said.

“They have been brought along with this same thought process. It doesn’t mean that they necessarily agree entirely with it … Now we will start a more formalized process with them now that the policy’s been adopted.”

His comments seemed aimed at assuaging European concerns that Washington is deliberately creating uncertainty about the nuclear deal’s future to pressure European banks and firms to stay away from Iran.

In a separate interview after Tillerson's, Trump said he does not object to France and Germany continuing trade with Iran, despite his refusal to certify the Iran nuclear deal.

“I told them just keep making money,” he has been quoted as saying. “Don’t worry. You just keep making money.”

“They are friends of mine. They really are. I get along with all of them. Whether it’s Emmanuel or Angela,” Trump said, referring to French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

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