Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said that Europe’s commitments to the Iran nuclear deal are beyond its proposed financial mechanism to facilitate trade with Tehran.
The Iranian top diplomat stressed that the mechanism dubbed special purpose vehicle (SPV) is a preliminary stage for fulfilling their commitments to the nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), according Fars News Agency.
He made the remarks in an interview with Iranian newspaper Hamshahri published on Tuesday.
Zarif said Europeans say the delay in finalizing the SPV is that they want to ensure it really works.
“We have for several times seen that they were on the verge of announcing the launch of the mechanism, but there were developments that prevented such announcement,” he said.
However, Zarif added the main reason is that they are not yet ready to pay the cost for saving the JCPOA.
Early in December, EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said that the European Union will establish the financial mechanism in the near future in an attempt to circumvent sanctions imposed by the United States against Tehran.
“I will expect this instrument to be established in the coming weeks before the end of the year as a way to protect and promote legitimate business,” Mogherini told reporters in Brussels.
Iran and the EU have been working on the SPV for months, following US President Donald Trump’s decision in May to abandon the Iran nuclear deal.
Since then, the Trump administration has targeted Iran’s oil and other key economic industries by introducing a series of economic sanctions, threatening other JCPOA signatories – the UK, France, China, Russia and Germany – to end business with Iran or face penalties.
The SPV is designed to protect European businesses from US financial punishments but progress has been slower than expected.
The Iranian foreign minister urged Europeans to stand on their own feet and work harder to overcome challenges created by the US.
Asked if Iran would withdraw from the accord in case Europe fails to finalize the mechanism, Zarif said Iran has various options and it would consider its people’s interests.
He stressed, “Pulling out of the JCPOA is one of our options which is quite legal,” he maintained, adding, “There are also options within the framework of the JCPOA, and they are legally authentic as well.”
Mogherini in an interview with the Livemint website published on Tuesday said that European Union is working, as a union of 28 member states and with the rest of the international community, to preserve the nuclear agreement that has so far been implemented in full, as certified by the International Atomic Energy Agency in 13 consecutive reports.
“Part of this work requires us to guarantee that firms wanting to do legitimate business with Iran are allowed to do so. This is what we are working on right now: tools that will assist, protect, and reassure economic actors pursuing legitimate business with Iran. It is true that this situation has triggered a conversation on European economic sovereignty. We Europeans cannot accept that a foreign power — even our closest friend and ally — makes decisions over our legitimate trade with another country. This is a basic element of sovereignty, and it is only natural that this reflection takes place, not only in Europe but in other parts of the world, too,” Mogherini said.