EU fails to agree new Iran sanc­tions as US dead­line nears

China Daily - - WORLD -

LUXEMBOURG — The Euro­pean Union failed to agree new sanc­tions against Iran on Mon­day amid Italy’s op­po­si­tion and fears that pun­ish­ing Te­heran for its mis­sile pro­gram and re­gional role would not stop US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump from aban­don­ing a sep­a­rate nu­clear deal.

Speak­ing on the side­lines of EU for­eign min­is­ters’ dis­cus­sions in Luxembourg, some diplo­mats said the out­come meant the EU might not make the US Pres­i­dent’s May 12 dead­line to “fix” the 2015 nu­clear ac­cord.

The EU is ea­ger to safe­guard the pact, un­der which Te­heran agreed to curb its nu­clear am­bi­tions for at least a decade, but Trump has been a fierce critic.

He has threat­ened not to ex­tend US sanc­tions re­lief on Iran re­lated to the agree­ment which sees the West mostly lift­ing ex­ten­sive sanc­tions in ex­change for the Is­lamic repub­lic curb­ing its nu­clear pro­gram.

Seek­ing to re­spond to Trump’s crit­i­cism of the nu­clear ac­cord and Te­heran more broadly, France, Britain and Ger­many pro­posed di­rect­ing sanc­tions at Ira­nian “mili­tias and com­man­ders” fight­ing on be­half of the Syr­ian gov­ern­ment.

They hoped hold­ing Iran ac­count­able for this could help con­vince Trump not to walk away from the nu­clear agree­ment. But they ran into op­po­si­tion by Italy, backed by Aus­tria.

“It may be that the nu­clear agree­ment is dead in the wa­ter any­way, so why risk em­bold­en­ing the rad­i­cals in Iran and un­der­min­ing our chances to win con­tracts there,” said one diplo­mat from the scep­ti­cal camp.

But an­other noted the bloc still had four weeks to go: “We are clearly head­ing there, though we need a bit more time.”

A third diplo­mat said it did not seem “very likely” that the bloc would put new re­stric­tions in place by mid-May.

With the EU as a whole keen to safe­guard the nu­clear ac­cord, the 28 EU min­is­ters agreed to con­tinue work on the mat­ter in the com­ing days and weeks.

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