Zarif: If Europe appreciates nuclear deal it must be ‘prepared to invest for it’ 

July 20, 2018

TEHRAN – In an interview with Euronews on Wednesday Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said if the European Union really appreciates the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran it must be “prepared to invest for it” now that the U.S. has quit the agreement and is seeking to return sanctions on Iran. 

The EU presented its package of proposals to Iran in early July. However, Iran said it contains “general” commitments and asked the bloc to be more specific on the details of cooperation.

In line with this purpose on July 6 the remaining countries party to the nuclear held a foreign ministerial meeting in Vienna to draw up the roadmap for cooperation with Iran without. The meeting wash chaired by EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini. 

“We received a package that was not satisfactory. Now we are working with the Europeans. Work is underway as we speak so that we test the possibility. We have given Europe some time. We have seen a political commitment on the part of Europe. We have seen some technical measures put on the ground. But these are not enough. There are two very specific timeframes. One is the timeframe of the first batch of U.S. sanctions that will be in place in August and the other timeframe is the second batch of U.S. sanctions, which will be in place in November. And we will see how Europe is dealing with this and we will respond accordingly and we have a very specific plan.

“We see that under pressure from the U.S., under the psychological atmosphere that the U.S. has tried to create, some European companies have already started to withdraw. And that has to be confronted by the Europeans if they are interested indeed in preserving the deal. If that is the belief, if that is the appreciation of our partners in Europe, then they have to be prepared to invest for it. Iran should not be the only side in this deal that has been investing. We need to see banks opening accounts, we need to see SMEs coming to Iran, engaging with their partners in the private sector and so on and so forth.”

The Iranian chief diplomat who was a key figure in crafting the nuclear pact urged the European Union to withstand the bully of the Trump administration which wants to decide for other countries.

“We have come to the assistance of everybody who was under threat in the region. So, our friends and neighbors in the region have always felt that they do not receive any threats from Iran.

“If they believe they can, in fact, continue to live with a global system, a new global system, in which one country will make the final decision and everybody else will have to follow, and sometimes you feel is not even one country, it's an individual or group of individuals who are making decisions on their own personal interests or for their own personal interests and then expect everybody else to follow. 

“Now you see particularly after meeting between President Trump and President Putin, that there are voices of concern in the U.S., that President Trump is not necessarily pursuing American national interests. Even, if he were perusing American national interests, are the people of Europe prepared to accept U.S. national interest dominating the decision-making process in the global economy? Are they prepared to accept this? Or are they prepared to stand against this? This is a question that European companies need to ask themselves, that the European governments need to ask themselves.”

Zarif said there are “various possibilities” for cooperation between Iran and Europe.

“Europe is not only companies that have American shareholders. There are many European companies, many of them have no exposure in the U.S., many of them have no dealings with the U.S.”

The senior diplomat said the Middle East may face “greater tension” if the nuclear deal is aborted.

“More than Iran, this is the point that Europe makes. Because they believe that the JCPOA is an important non-proliferation document and without the JCPOA, there is room for greater tension in the region. We, on our side, believe that we have always relied for our security on our people. Our security is driven from within not from outside. But we have also shown that our people will resist aggression, will not accept anybody trying to intimidate Iran, to humiliate Iran or worse yet to invade Iran or to undermine our security or territorial integrity. 

“We have come to the assistance of everybody who was under threat in the region. So, our friends and neighbors in the region have always felt that they do not receive any threats from Iran. Some may have made some propaganda in order to advance certain domestic or regional agenda and have not gained much from it. So, I believe the best way to deal with these issues, for our Persian Gulf region, is through regional dialogue and that would ensure the security of everybody in this immediate neighborhood.”

“If President Trump wants to take credit for it, he should take credit for supporting Daesh which has been what the U.S. and its allies have been doing all along.”

Zarif also reiterated Iran’s long-held policy that it is the Syrians who must decide their future as he said Iran and Russia are fighting terrorism in Syria. 

“Iran and Russia have helped the Syrian people and will continue to help the Syrian people as long as is necessary. But at the end of the day, it is the Syrians who make the decision. We have good communication and coordination with Russia and with the Syrian government and we will continue to do so. Our objective here is very clear, that is our objective, the objective of the Russian Federation and that is to fight against terrorism and extremism. Now if President Trump wants to take credit for it, he should take credit for supporting Daesh which has been what the U.S. and its allies have been doing all along. The facts that U.S. arms, U.S. weapons have been found in the hands of ISIS and other extremist organizations is documented by Western sources.”

Foreign Minister Zarif also refuted the view that Iran would just get commodities from Russia in exchange for oil as the U.S. sanctions are looming, saying there is a broad picture for cooperation between Tehran and Moscow.

“There are part of a bigger package of Iran-Russia cooperation, which includes a lot of activities, investments by Russia in the Iranian energy sector, the participation of Russia in Iranian infrastructure activities, the engagement between Iran and Russia in oil and trade. This is a big package of cooperation that we have with Russia, but I do not believe that a part of that package is we give oil to Russia and we receive goods and commodities. It’s a much bigger package and it includes a lot of other variables, including possibilities for energy cooperation between Iran and Russia, but also possibilities for Iran to receive cash.”

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