1237 GMT February 17, 2019
Europe has to decide what to do in case the US makes good on its threat to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal and reimpose sanctions on Iran. The alternative is to agree to tighter terms proposed by Washington that could hit European companies.
The EU says it fully supports the nuclear deal and some analysts and MEPs say it should not cave in to pressure from Washington. Others, however, say it should comply with demands from its biggest security partner.
In light of growing concerns in the business community, an EU spokesperson told EURACTIV.com that the bloc always seeks to protect the interests of its companies.
“We would not speculate about hypothetical situations. The EU always seeks to protect the legitimate interests of its economic operators,” the spokesperson said when asked whether the bloc has a contingency plan to protect European investors if Washington ultimately decides to pull out of the deal reached in July 2015.
After almost two years of delicate negotiations, China, France, Russia, the UK, US and Germany – known as the P5+1 – agreed with Tehran in Vienna on the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) to limit Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for relief from nuclear-related economic sanctions.
But the Trump administration has called the deal an “embarrassment” that is not in the US national interests and needs to be “corrected.”
“This is the last chance… I hereby call on key European countries to join with the United States in fixing significant flaws in the deal, countering Iranian aggression, and supporting the Iranian people. If other nations fail to act during this time, I will terminate our deal with Iran,” the US president warned last month.
“If Iran does not comply with any of these [new] provisions, American nuclear sanctions would automatically resume.”
For its part, the EU has stated it will remain “fully committed” to implementing the nuclear deal. Brussels has stood by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which has conducted numerous inspections in Iran and said that the country has complied with all its commitments.
“It is a deal that prevented a nuclear arms race in the Middle East, next to us. That brought security in the region and to young people in the country. That was the European way and it was, thanks to us, because we were the mediator,” EU foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, said recently.