By Mehdi Sepahvand

Salehi: EU better launch SPV before it is too late

January 27, 2019 - 19:1

Iran’s nuclear chief says the European Union (EU) had better launch a promised payment mechanism meant to maintain trade with Iran and bypass unilateral sanctions by the United States “before it is too late.”

Speaking to IRNA in an interview published on Sunday, Ali Akbar Salehi warned that the EU’s failure to launch the mechanism — known as the special purpose vehicle (SPV) — in time would have unspecified consequences.

“Before it is too late, Europeans, in particular, should fulfill what they have promised beforehand; otherwise, I am afraid that the future developments will not be conducive... neither for us nor for them or even for other participants of the JCPOA,” Salehi said, using an abbreviation for the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, a nuclear deal that Iran and originally six other countries struck back in 2015.

Under that deal, Iran agreed to apply certain limits to its nuclear program in exchange for the lifting of the unilateral and international sanctions that had been imposed on it over its nuclear activities. Last year, however, President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew the U.S. from the JCPOA and re-imposed sanctions on Iran as well as the countries that would do business with it.

Iran has remained in the deal but says continued compliance will depend on assurances by the remaining parties that the country will collect the economic dividends expected under the deal.

The EU, which disapproves of the Trump administration’s withdrawal and its sanctions on European trade with Iran and which also seeks to keep Iran in the deal, has come up with the idea of the SPV to directly trade with Iran and circumvent the U.S. financial system.

Salehi said that the Islamic Republic “does not want to see the deal disintegrated and breached” by any of the remaining parties to the agreement.

“Iran has been fulfilling its commitments regarding the deal,” he said, adding that 13 reports by the International Atomic Energy Agency provide ample proof of this.

Iran’s nuclear chief further complained that the Europeans’ promise to set up the SPV has not yet been fulfilled.

Earlier this week, Maja Kocijancic, the spokeswoman for EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, said that preparations to launch the SPV were at “an advanced stage,” Bloomberg reported.

“The SPV preparations have progressed; they are at an advanced stage,” she said. “I hope that we can announce the launch very soon.”

Three European diplomats told Bloomberg the official unveiling could come as early as Monday.

Commenting on the news, Salehi said, “I hope that they (the Europeans) will take this step because this is an encouragement and will help keep the trust that we worked so hard to build between the two sides; otherwise, we will be losing the trust; and once the trust is lost, everybody will be a loser in the game.”

“We should win this battle and we can only win it together. Otherwise, it will become a battle already lost; and certainly this will not be in the interest of the Europeans, specifically if we notice that they look at the JCPOA mainly from the perspective of security,” he added.

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