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Iran: Europe must offset consequences of US sanctions

Iran’s Foreign Minister warns his country can "reduce its implementation" of 2015 deal and even resume its uranium enrichment.

Europe should take action to neutralize the consequences of the US decision to withdraw from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, Iran’s Foreign Minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, said on Saturday.

Iran could “reduce its implementation” of the agreement and possibly increase uranium enrichment activities if the nuclear agreement was jeopardized by “the actions of the Americans and the passivity of the Europeans,” said Zarif, who spoke to the German Der Spiegel news magazine and was quoted by Reuters.

“The Europeans and other signatories must act to offset the consequences of the US sanctions,” Zarif added, calling a package of measures drafted by Europe an important step that should now be implemented.

“What is paramount: Europe should do so not for Iran, but for its own sovereign and long-term economic interests,” continued Zarif.

US President Donald Trump withdrew from the Iran deal in May. Recently, the President signed an executive order officially reinstating US sanctions against Iran.

The European signatories to the deal did not agree with Trump’s decision to leave the deal and have been trying to save the accord, which they see as crucial to forestalling an Iranian nuclear weapon.

Tehran has demanded that Europe come up with an economic package to offset the effects of the US withdrawal but so far has found Europe’s proposals to be unsatisfactory.

Zarif said on Saturday Tehran’s biggest priority was to continue to sell a reasonable amount oil worldwide and return the proceeds to Iran, as well encouraging investment and cooperation in areas such as technology and research.

“Europe said the nuclear agreement was in its security interest. Then Europe must be ready to pay for its security,” he continued, stressing, “Nothing is for free.”

Europe, said Zarif, should be “ready to pay for its security” by implementing a European Union “blocking agreement” under which it can punish European firms for withdrawing from Iranian business deals to avoid US sanctions.

“The question is whether European wants its companies to follow European laws or American ones, or whether it will submit to the American dictates,” Zarif said.

The Iranian Foreign Minister stressed, as he has in the past, that Iran has options to act if Europe fails to act to compensate it for the US sanctions.

“We do not necessarily have to cancel (the agreement). Article 36 of the agreement and Security Resolution 2231 make it possible to reduce implementation, without cancelling it,” he said.

Asked if Iran could resume increased enrichment of uranium, he said, “That would be one of the possibilities.”

A spokesman for Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization threatened last week the Islamic Republic would begin uranium enrichment beyond previous levels if the remaining parties fail to uphold the 2015 deal.

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