JCPOA still ‘robust’ despite U.S. exit: UK diplomat

August 6, 2018 - 10:0

TEHRAN – The permanent under-secretary at the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office believes that the Iran nuclear deal is still “robust”, notwithstanding U.S. efforts to scrap it.

Sir Simon McDonald told the Iran Daily in an interview published on Sunday that together “we will be able to preserve” the JCPOA, the official name for the 2015 nuclear agreement.

“Many people, especially in the U.S., are surprised that two months after the American withdrawal, the agreement is still in robust existence,” the senior diplomat stated.

He underlined that the UK is trying to make sure of its role to keep the JCPOA in place even after Brexit.

“This is important to us because, as we leave the EU, we want to show that we can still work closely with our partners on key foreign policy issues, the prime example of which is the JCPOA. Thus, this has not just been British work, this has been European work. We are discussing with Iran, the sectors of most interest to the country. Oil and gas and the banking sectors are at the heart of the negotiations.”

The UK and Iran… should work together on regional issues.

“By signing the JCPOA, the Europeans have made a commitment, which is more than an aspiration. However, new mechanisms will have to be put in place and they will take some time to develop. But I should stress that we think the JCPOA is a good deal for Iran. We believe that it is in Iran’s interest to stay within the JCPOA. The preservation of the deal is also in the interest of Europe and that is why we are working so hard to this end,” McDonald noted.

He also referred to a law recently activated by the EU to support European companies against U.S. sanctions for working with Iran. “The ‘blocking statute’ is part of the overall European package and not the only thing. But it is an important signal on the part of the Europeans and shows their support for the JCPOA. It has not finally been agreed within Europe. There are procedures that are still running. So we will not know until the end of August whether it will be activated or not.”

“This, we will see. But the whole point is to facilitate continued business between the European countries and Iran. The signal that we are sending is that we want our companies to continue to be able to do business with Iran without fearing that a penalty will be imposed on them for doing what is legally right.”

The British diplomat went on to stress that Iran is an important trading partner for the UK. “Immediately after the signing of the JCPOA, trade between Tehran and London increased by 100 percent to stand at about $500 million. At that time, there was a burst of interest and activity which resulted in the 100-percent increase which was very welcome. The figure was relatively lower before the international agreement was signed. But now, we have to see what happens next as it is too early to judge what would be the impact of US withdrawal from the JCPOA. Clearly, what has happened so far this year is causing some turbulence in the trading relationship between the two countries.”

He also touched upon the political significance of Iran, saying “Since Iran is a major Middle Eastern power and the UK is a P5 country with major interests in the Middle East, logically, the UK and Iran, as far as the field of politics is concerned, should work together on regional issues. Economy-wise, the oil sector is a potential field for expanding mutual cooperation where British companies can help further develop the oil industry in Iran.”

SP/

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