EU Rebuffs US Demand for New Iran Sanctions

The top EU diplomat said ballistic missiles are not in the scope of the Iran nuclear deal and it is extremely important that the issue is kept outside of the agreement
Federica MogheriniFederica Mogherini

The European Union’s top diplomat rebuffed calls from the US administration to tighten the screws on Iran over its missile program and regional role, saying the bloc has no plans to discuss new sanctions on Tehran.

“First of all, let me say that we did not discuss today nor last week, nor do I foresee any discussion in the future about further sanctions from the European Union side on Iran,” Federica Mogherini said on Monday.

“This is not part of our current discussions. And, as you know, we have lifted all our nuclear-related sanctions on Iran in compliance with our own commitments with the JCPOA,” she said at a press conference following the Foreign Affairs Council meeting in Brussels on Monday. Mogherini was using an abbreviation that stands for the formal title of the nuclear deal Iran agreed with major powers to accept curbs on its nuclear work in exchange for sanctions relief. US President Donald Trump has expressed concern over Tehran’s missile and regional activities and has criticized the nuclear agreement, negotiated under his predecessor Barack Obama, for failing to address those concerns.

He has pushed for a renegotiation of the international pact to accommodate his concerns, despite opposition from Iran and European allies of Washington that helped it negotiate the deal.

“Ballistic missiles are not in the scope of the JCPOA and it is extremely important that we keep that outside of the JCPOA. This is a discussion and a proposal that was never raised at our table in these recent months and I don’t foresee this to happen in the near future,” Mogherini said, according to a transcript of her remarks posted on the website of the European External Action Service.

  Different Note

However, France’s Foreign Ministry suggested that if needed, new missile sanctions could be imposed on Iran, Reuters reported.

“As you know, the European Union has already placed sanctions on Iranian entities involved in the ballistic program,” foreign ministry spokeswoman, Agnes Romatet-Espagne, said. Iran rejected on Sunday a call by French President Emmanuel Macron for talks on Tehran’s ballistic missiles, saying they were defensive and unrelated to a nuclear agreement with world powers.

She was asked to clarify comments made by Macron during a trip to the UAE last week about the prospects of possible sanctions with regard to those activities.

“If needed, new sanctions could be taken,” she said.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian will be in the Saudi capital later this week and intends to travel to Iran before the end of the month.

“The political dialogue between France and Iran is active and makes it possible to address all topics, including strategic and regional issues,” Romatet-Espagne said. “Mr. Le Drian will have a firm dialogue when he goes to Iran.”

The United States accused Iran last week of being behind the firing of a missile into Saudi Arabia by Houthi fighters, describing it as a violation of two UN Security Council resolutions. Tehran has denied the accusations.

Riyadh leads an air campaign against Houthi forces in Yemen to restore fugitive president Abd-Rabbu Mansur Hadi to power, with the military support of the US and the UK.

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