Rouhani to Macron: Normalizing oil and banking ties is first step Europe should take

July 31, 2019 - 18:1

TEHRAN – In a phone conversation with his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron late on Tuesday, President Hassan Rouhani said the first step that Europe should take to save the 2015 nuclear deal is to normalize oil and banking ties.

Under the 2015 nuclear deal, officially known as the JCPOA, Iran agreed to put limits on its nuclear activities in exchange for the termination of economic and financial sanctions.

“Unfortunately, despite Iran’s full commitment to its obligations, only a small part of Iran’s economic interests has been met, and after the withdrawal of the United States, we have not only not seen any serious action by Europe in this respect, but also some European companies left Iran following United States’ unilateral sanctions,” Rouhani stated. 

Donald Trump withdrew the U.S. from the UN-endorsed JCPOA in May 2018 and imposed the toughest ever sanctions against Iran in line with his administration’s “maximum pressure” policy against Tehran. 

Rouhani described the U.S. sanctions against the Iranian people as examples of “economic terrorism” and “inhuman action”.

The United States has introduced a total ban on Iran’s oil exports, which are Iran’s main source of income.

“Full compliance with the commitments by Iran while the other side does not meet its least commitments is not acceptable for the Iranian people,” Rouhani said. 
“Full compliance with the commitments by Iran while the other side does not meet its least commitments is not acceptable for the Iranian people,” Rouhani said. 

He also said that Iran can reverse its decision to reduce nuclear commitments as soon as Europe meets the country’s economic interests.

Last week, Deputy Foreign Minister for Political Affairs Abbas Araghchi submitted a written message from Rouhani to Macron.

Rouhani and stressed the need for continued talks between Tehran and Paris to ensure two sides’ commitment to the JCPOA.

On May 8, exactly one year after the U.S. withdrew from the multi-nation nuclear agreement and reimposed sanctions on Iran, Tehran said its “strategic patience” is over and announced a partial withdrawal from some aspects of the pact, saying that the country would no longer adhere to some of the limits on its nuclear activities. It also threatened to step up uranium enrichment if an agreement is not made within 60 days to protect it from the sanctions’ effects. 

In follow-up to that deadline, on July 7 Iran announced that it has started enriching uranium to a higher purity than the 3.67% as the Europeans missed the 60-day deadline to devise a concrete mechanism to protect the country from the U.S. sanctions.

The remaining JCPOA parties held an emergency meeting in Vienna on Sunday to discuss Iran’s moves in reducing its nuclear commitments and explore ways to save the nuclear deal.

Araghchi, Tehran’s top nuclear negotiator who represented Iran in the meeting, called the talks “constructive”. However, he warned Iran would continue to reduce its nuclear commitments if Europeans failed to normalize economic ties with Iran. 

"The atmosphere was constructive. Discussions were good. I cannot say that we resolved everything, I can say there are lots of commitments," the senior nuclear negotiator told Reuters.
Helga Schmid, secretary general of the European External Action Service (EEAS), also issued a statement on Sunday saying that “participants reaffirmed their continued commitment to preserving the JCPOA.”

She also said, “They recalled that both nuclear commitments and sanctions-lifting are essential parts of the agreement.”

‘Iran is the main guarantor of regional security’

Rouhani also told the French leader that Iran has been and will be the main guarantor of security for shipping in the Persian Gulf region and the Strait of Hormuz.

He noted that continuation of the U.S. policies in the region cause tension which will have negative consequences for the international stability.

Rouhani also lauded the French president’s efforts to resolve existing issues, saying, “Iran has always welcomed any initiative aimed at fair solutions and constructive dialogue.”

Macron says France to make any effort to normalize Iran’s economic ties 

For his part, Macron said that France to make any effort to meet Iran’s interests and normalize Tehran’s economic ties with other countries.

He described the U.S. unilateral sanctions against Iran as “unacceptable”.


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