Despite US withdrawal, EU holds on to salvage nuclear deal with Iran

Europe is doing all it can in order to preserve the sanctity of the 2015 nuclear deal which prevents Iran from creating nuclear weapons in a trade-off for economic incentives. The nuclear agreement was signed between the UK, France, Germany, Britain, China, Russia, and the US. Last year US President Donald Trump quit the deal, saying that Tehran was “not living up to the spirit” of the treaty, and reimposed sanctions. The US sanctions bar not only US companies from doing business with Iran, but also prevents non-US organizations from undertaking any commercial activity with Iran.

Iran retaliated to US pressure not as per the likes of Washington and challenged the sanctions by exceeding the limit on storing low-enriched uranium and the limit at which it enriches uranium. Enriched uranium is used in the making of nuclear weapons. Iran justified its move of intensifying its nuclear activities as a reaction to US imposed ‘economic blockade’.

European leaders, much to Trump’s dismay, stood by Iran. Spanish Foreign Minister Josep Borrell criticized US tight sanctions on Iran.

On Monday, UK Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, who went too Brussels to discuss the nuclear deal and scaling up of Iran’s military actions in the Middle East, said, “We are looking to find a way to preserve the nuclear deal, which we think is the best way of keeping the Middle East, as a whole, nuclear-weapon-free.”

He added, “Iran is still a good year away from developing a nuclear weapon. We think there is still some closing but small window to keep the deal alive.”

Besides US, other members of the treaty said that they did not consider Iran’s soaring uranium level so far to be significantly noncompliant to the treaty. They also asked US and Iran to deescalate the issue, as it has hampered global trade and economy and would even be detrimental to the region.

To wear off the impact of US sanctions France, Germany and Britain signed a trade deal with Iran, which technically doesn’t come in conflict with US sanctions. They have set up an “Instrument in Support of Trade Exchanges” or INSTEX, which would allow businesses to undertake direct financial transactions and protect the companies involved. INSTEX, headquartered in Paris, is overseen by a German banker. To begin with the trade deal would focus on the products that don’t come in the way of US sanctions, such as medicine, medical supplies, and agricultural goods.

Though US didn’t seem quite happy about the trade deal. The US State Department issued a statement, more like a warning, notifying the European nations involved with trade with Iran that US is closely observing their actions, and if any activity is found in conflict with US sanctions, it would not allow that company from accessing US market.

Israel, sarcastically commented over EU’s covering up for Iran’s transgression as a failed diplomatic move by European nations, similar to the one it made against Nazi Germany before World War II. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, “It seems there are those in Europe who will not wake up until Iranian nuclear missiles land on European soil. But then it will be too late, of course.”

Israel declared its allegiance to US and confirmed that it would continue to follow preventive measures on its own to stop Tehran from developing nuclear weapons.

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