Merkel de­fends Iran deal as EU is set for sanc­tions show­down with the US

▶ Ger­man leader says main­tain­ing the deal is best way to work with se­cu­rity chal­lenges posed by Tehran

The National - News - - NEWS - GARETH BROWNE Lon­don

An­gela Merkel, the Ger­man Chan­cel­lor, has mounted a strong de­fence of the Iran nu­clear deal af­ter the Ira­nian for­eign min­is­ter said he was re­as­sured by EU mem­bers in Brus­sels that it would sur­vive the US with­drawal.

Mrs Merkel told Ger­man leg­is­la­tors that stay­ing in the agree­ment was the best way of deal­ing with the se­cu­rity chal­lenges posed by Tehran’s re­gional ag­gres­sion and mil­i­tary build-up.

“It’s any­thing but ideal but it’s not right to can­cel this agree­ment in this sit­u­a­tion now,” she said. “This does not mean we are happy about ev­ery­thing Iran is do­ing.

“We have to talk about its role in Syria, its bal­lis­tic mis­sile pro­gramme, other is­sues, but the ques­tion is whether you can talk bet­ter if you ter­mi­nate an agree­ment or if you stay in it. We say you can talk bet­ter if you re­main in it.”

The com­ments came just hours af­ter talks be­tween Eu­ro­pean and Ira­nian rep­re­sen­ta­tives in Brus­sels in the first such meet­ing since US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump pulled out of the deal last week.

Ira­nian For­eign Min­is­ter Javad Zarif said the talks had been con­struc­tive and tech­ni­cal teams would present pro­pos­als to pro­tect the deal from external pres­sure.

“From next week, in­ten­sive ex­pert meet­ings will start in Europe,” Mr Zarif said. “They must do the work, but they will con­sult us so that we are sure the actions they take are suf­fi­cient from our point of view.”

De­spite the in­sis­tence that the Eu­ro­pean end of the deal can be kept alive, the threat of be­ing caught in the US sanc­tions net is a grave con­cern for com­pa­nies and banks that are pre­pared to do busi­ness with Iran.

French en­ergy gi­ant To­tal, which took a con­trol­ling stake in Iran’s South Pars 11 pro­ject last year, said yes­ter­day that it would not in­vest fur­ther in the coun­try with­out a sanc­tions waiver be­cause of its large busi­ness op­er­a­tions in Amer­ica and its reliance on US banks.

Boris John­son, the Bri­tish For­eign Sec­re­tary, asked the US to re­frain from actions “that could pre­vent the re­main­ing par­ties to the agree­ment from meet­ing their com­mit­ments un­der the deal”, and for sanc­tions re­lief on “le­git­i­mate trade”.

Mr Zarif also met Fed­er­ica Mogherini, the EU for­eign pol­icy chief, in Brus­sels. Ms Mogherini said of­fi­cials had al­ready be­gun draw­ing up mea­sures to cir­cum­vent US sanc­tions, which would be reim­posed in com­ing months.

Af­ter the talks, Ms Mogherini sug­gested that the Eu­ro­pean trio would not back down.

Europe has the most to lose from a di­rect con­fronta­tion with Wash­ing­ton over Iran … its very self-re­spect

COR­NELIUS ADEBAHR

Carnegie Europe

Cor­nelius Adebahr of Carnegie Europe said: “As the main fa­cil­i­ta­tor of the talks lead­ing up to the agree­ment, the EU is its guardian of sorts.

“More­over, Europe has the most to lose from a di­rect con­fronta­tion with Wash­ing­ton over Iran.

“The bot­tom line its very self-re­spect as an in­ter­na­tional player is at stake.”

Bloomberg

An­gela Merkel says it’s ‘not right to can­cel this agree­ment in this sit­u­a­tion now’

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