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Iran says USA sanctions meant to derail efforts to save nuclear deal

16 May 2018

Zarif held meetings with EU Foreign Policy Chief Federica Mogherini, and the foreign ministers of France (Jean-Yves Le Drian), Germany (Heiko Maas), and the United Kingdom (Boris Johnson) in Brussels on Tuesday May 15.

Russian media further cited Zarif as saying that Tehran and Moscow would do their utmost to keep the Iran deal in place less than a week after US President Donald Trump announced Washington's withdrawal from the JCPOA despite earlier global warnings and pleas for the White House not to attack yet another worldwide agreement.

President Donald Trump's decision to pull out the USA from the nuclear deal and reimpose sanctions has also added fresh momentum to efforts to start trading oil in yuan following China's launch of crude oil futures.

It is unclear how well the measure could be enforced, given that big multinationals are likely to be doing more business in the USA than they are in Iran and may be unwilling to compromise that market access.

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The US has meanwhile announced new sanctions on Iran, including on the country's central bank head.

Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has the last word on country's crucial issues, has urged Iranian negotiators to receive "practical guarantees" from the Europeans, if the deal is to be saved.

"Yesterday, we witnessed a very unsafe behavior from the side of the same regime towards Jerusalem", he said while commenting on the expected relocation of the USA embassy. Under the new regulations, US authorities will close existing USA accounts - or prohibit the opening of any new accounts - belonging to any foreign bank that processes payments through Iran's central bank for any transaction, not just oil deals.

Foreign firms engaging in trade in Iran have also been threatened with punishment, with all manner of companies including Renault, Siemens and Total among those tied up in billions of dollars worth of deals.

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The remaining signatories - Russia, China and the three European nations - are now in flurry of diplomatic activity trying to salvage their agreement.

"We are not fantasising that Europe will break its relations with America. but we want Europeans to defend their own interests", Zarif added. "The sanctions that the US put in are going to kick in, in the next three to six months".

Many people around the world who are in favor of the Iran Nuclear Agreement (the JCPOA) may not realize that it was never approved by the US Congress, is not a formal treaty from an American legal perspective, and only 21% of Americans approved of the Agreement when it was put into place in 2015. After their meeting, Zarif and Wang hailed the "comprehensive strategic partnership" between their countries, with the Chinese minister saying: "I hope and believe that these visits to multiple countries will. help protect Iran's legitimate national interests and peace and stability in the region". If European powers can not deliver real economic benefits, Iran may declare the deal dead.

Reuters reported on Wednesday that a senior Iranian official has met Chinese oil buyers this week to ask them to maintain imports after US sanctions kick in.

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Mogherini acknowledged the enormous challenge of finding a way around USA sanctions punishing businesses trading with Iran.

Iran says USA sanctions meant to derail efforts to save nuclear deal