News ID: 213373
Published: 0153 GMT April 17, 2018

EU fails to agree on new Iran sanctions as Trump deadline nears

EU fails to agree on new Iran sanctions as Trump deadline nears

The European Union failed to agree on new sanctions against Iran amid Italy’s opposition and fears that such moves against Tehran 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, Reuters reported.

The EU is eager to safeguard the pact, under which Tehran agreed to curb its nuclear activities 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 Tehran more broadly, France, Britain and Germany proposed directing sanctions at Iranian military advisors in Syria. They hoped it could help convince Trump not to walk away from the nuclear agreement. But they ran into opposition by Italy, backed by Austria.

One diplomat from the skeptical camp said it may be that the nuclear agreement is dead in the water anyway, so why risk undermining our chances to win contracts in Iran.

But another, from one of the three European powers, 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 now 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. “The issue remains on the agenda,” said Germany’s new Foreign Minister Heiko Maas.

Last week, the EU prolonged its already-existing sanctions on Iran related to what the bloc claims human rights violations, while a US Treasury official said Washington welcomed the push for new restrictions.

The European Union foreign policy chief told reporters on Monday preserving Iran nuclear deal is vital for the European bloc.

“On the Iran deal, we're doing all we can to work with our American friends to make sure that all parties stay fully committed to the full implementation of the agreement,” Federica Mogherini said.

“As it is the case so far as we know the last joint commission that we chaired was positive, everybody recognized that Iran is fully compliant with its nuclear commitments as has been confirmed by the IAEA for 11 times,” she said.

“Let me add that preserving the agency credibility is crucial especially in a time when we enter maybe hopefully, some interesting discussions with DPRK [Democratic People's Republic of Korea]. So work is ongoing and we believe it would be essential to stay united in this,” she noted.

The top EU diplomat continued, “Let me also add the Europeans have always made it clear for us that keeping the agreement in place is vital.

“It is a strategic interest for the EU and we will stick to it.”



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