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Nuclear Deal Pullout Possible, If Europe's Proposal Fails

Nuclear Deal Pullout Possible, If Europe's Proposal Fails Nuclear Deal Pullout Possible, If Europe's Proposal Fails

Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif said Iran might leave the nuclear deal, if Europe's proposal aimed at salvaging the agreement fails to meet the country's demands. 

"Iran might pull out of the nuclear accord if the special mechanism being created by the Europeans to offset the US exit does not work," he told reporters at a roundtable at the Iranian mission to the United Nations in New York on Saturday evening, the Washington Post reported. 

Only a handful of countries agree with the US decision to abandon the nuclear deal. The European Union said on Monday that its member countries would establish a special purpose vehicle (SPV) to allow oil companies and private businesses to keep trading with Iran. 

The attempts to evade US sanctions are rooted in the belief that the nuclear deal is working as intended and that Iran has kept its commitments to the agreement under the monitoring of the International Atomic Energy Agency. In effect, Iran and the other countries involved in the agreement are trying to keep the deal alive.

>Avoiding Dollar 

The foreign minister said Iran plans to get around US sanctions on its oil sales by selling its petroleum and conducting international trade in currencies other than the US dollar.  

"The actual mechanism would be to avoid dollars," he said, adding that countries are starting to make agreements to use their own currencies in bilateral trade.

"You can use your own currency," Zarif explained. "Sell stuff in your own currency, buy stuff in the other country's currency, and at the end of a specific period, balance it out in a non-dollar currency. It's quite possible and may even be profitable." 

The United States is poised to impose sanctions in early November on Iran's oil sector. The sanctions were suspended under the nuclear deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, which the US and five other world powers agreed to in 2015. 

But since US President Donald Trump announced in May that he was withdrawing from the deal, American officials have been pressuring other countries to stop their oil sales from Iran to deprive it of its chief source of income. They also threatened secondary sanctions, if the sanctions are defied.

It is unclear how successful the strategy to avoid them will be. Many international corporations have already stopped doing business with Iran because so much international business is conducted partially in US dollars. 

The uncertainty over the looming US sanctions has sent oil prices to a four-year high. The sanctions against Iran, which is the third largest producer in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, become effective on Nov. 4.  

Federica Mogherini, the European Union foreign policy chief, has said the SPV under consideration to facilitate trade with Iran and preserve the nuclear accord could be in place "before November".

 

>Possibility of War

Asked if Tehran's exit from the nuclear pact would open the door to a US military attack, Zarif said, "I think if the United States believed it could succeed in such an attack, it would have done so."  

The top diplomat expressed no interest in a new deal with the United States, as mooted by the US administration.  

Two weeks ago, Brian Hook, the US State Department's envoy for Iran, said Washington was seeking "the new deal that we hope to be able to sign with Iran, and it will not be a personal agreement between two governments like the last one; we seek a treaty." 

Zarif conceded that Trump may win the opening rounds of what has essentially become a litmus test of whether countries will follow the president's confrontational approach. 

Iranian officials have said Trump is trying to bait them into violating the accord, setting the stage for a resumption of the long-running crisis that the 2015 deal was supposed to de-escalate.

"You are just another country," Zarif said in his comments to reporters, addressing the United States. "Just act as a normal country."

 

>Talks With Kerry

On his recent conversations with former secretary of state, John Kerry, whom Trump and his secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, have accused of undermining American foreign policy, Zarif said the messages were simple.

"What he has done has been to encourage us to stay in the deal," he added, lauding the virtues of dialogue between Americans and Iranians. 

Kerry and Zarif formed a professional friendship during long months of negotiating the nuclear deal. 

"I didn't know that you still had witch hunts here in the US," Zarif said when asked to characterize the conversations with Kerry—a nod to one of Trump's favorite phrases about the investigation into Russia's alleged interference in the 2016 US presidential election. 

The foreign minister laughed when asked whether the United States could bring down the current Iranian government by mounting financial pressure—a regime change strategy that Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani recently said was the real goal, contrasting with administration comments that government change in Tehran is not US policy.   

The Trump administration has been on a confrontational path with Iran, which it claims is the main source of instability in the region.  

Pompeo has stopped just short of calling for regime change in Iran and has ordered a US campaign across social media platforms and radio in support of protests against the government's economic policies across the country in recent months.

 

>Regional Issues 

US officials have excoriated the Islamic Republic for getting involved in regional conflicts in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon and Yemen. But Zarif was dismissive of the US president's escalating verbal attacks on Iran's missiles and its support of Lebanon's Hezbollah resistance movement, Palestine's Hamas group and the Syrian government of Bashar al-Assad and portrayed the United States as the aggressor in the region. 

"Have you seen that map with all the US bases around us and said, 'Why are these Iranians putting their country in the middle of all these bases?'" he said sarcastically. 

"We are in our region. We have not invaded any country. We have not sent troops anywhere we were not asked. We have not bombed any country. We have not taken territory from any country. We are content with our size, with our geography, with our resources. We have no eye on anybody else's territory, resources or people." 

On the subject of recent claims by the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, that Iran had hidden nuclear-related components in a warehouse in Tehran, Zarif said he believed that it was a cleaning facility for Persian rugs, the New York Times reported. 

Iran denies allegations that it is seeking to build an atomic bomb and says its nuclear work has medical uses and will produce energy to meet domestic demand and complement its oil reserves. 

 

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