European Union Vows to Uphold JCPOA

European Union Vows to Uphold JCPOAEuropean Union Vows to Uphold JCPOA

The European Council released a statement at the end of its meeting on Iran on Monday, in which it reiterated its commitment to helping facilitate the full implementation of the Iran nuclear deal and supporting the development of bilateral ties.

The landmark agreement was reached last year between Tehran and six major powers, namely the United States, Britain, France, China and Russia, plus Germany, together known as P5+1 or E3/EU+3.

It went into force in January to scale down Iran's nuclear program in exchange for relief from international sanctions.

The two sides have been engaged in "high-level" talks aimed at establishing a comprehensive bilateral cooperation.

"The European Union reiterates its resolute commitment to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action [the formal title of the accord], which is a multilateral endeavor by the E3/EU+3 and Iran. It welcomes that the JCPOA is being implemented by all sides," said the statement, posted on the website of the European Council.

Iran has repeatedly expressed frustration and dismay over the lack of access to financing, funds and insurance from abroad it had expected to help jumpstart its sanctions-hit economy.

Residual US restrictions, including a ban on clearing Iran-related transactions through the US financial system, have made overseas banks and companies steer clear of deals with Iranians on fears of possible US retribution over even an unwitting sanctions violation.

Iran has called on the US government to do more to ease the concerns and has sought European leverage to put pressure on Washington's policy and decision makers.

"The European Union is committed to support the full and effective implementation of the JCPOA, including by the lifting of nuclear-related economic and financial sanctions and engaging with the private sector and economic operators, especially banks, to promote growth in trade and investment," the statement said.

"In particular, extensive guidance has been provided on the lifting of sanctions to ensure the new regulatory framework is clear. The council will continue to reach out to all relevant parties on this issue."

***Gradual Engagement

The European body also expressed its will to develop its relations with the Islamic Republic, in a manner "fully consistent with the JCPOA."

"The council reiterates its support to the development of EU-Iran relations in areas of common interest such as political dialogue, human rights, economic cooperation, trade and investment, agriculture, transport, energy and climate change, civil nuclear cooperation, environment, civil protection, science, research and innovation, education, including through university exchanges, culture, migration, regional and humanitarian issues," it said.

The plan for "high-level" consultations was announced in a late-July 2015 press conference attended by Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and his EU counterpart, Federica Mogherini, who was on a visit to Tehran days after the conclusion of the historic accord pact.

The latest round of talks between the two sides' high-level economic and political delegations took place as recently as last week in the Belgian capital, Brussels.

"The council supports a coordinated EU strategy of gradual engagement with Iran, which is comprehensive in scope, cooperative where there is mutual interest, critical when there are differences and constructive in practice," he said.

Iran's Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Qasemi welcomed parts of the European Council's statement that stress the EU's commitment to the nuclear deal and the bloc's decision to upgrade mutual ties, but dismissed the concerns voiced over the human rights situation in Iran and Tehran's missile program.


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