Europe 'unlikely' to meet Iran's demands for deal, as rescue talks begin in Vienna

Europe 'unlikely' to meet Iran's demands for deal, as rescue talks begin in Vienna
Tehran demanded Europe provide a number of economic guarantees in order for it to continue its nuclear commitments ahead of a high-level meeting in Vienna on Friday.
3 min read
06 July, 2018
European ministers are exploring ways to salvage the nuclear deal with Iran [File photo: Getty]
European diplomats say they are likely to fall short of Iran's demands to guarantee oil revenue and investment in the country amid US sanctions, as remaining signatories to the nuclear deal meet for rescue talks.

Foreign ministers from Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia will meet their Iranian counterpart in Vienna on Friday for the first time since the US, an original signatory to the 2015 pact, pulled out of the deal.

"The objective is to save the deal. We've made some progress, including on safeguarding some crude sales, but it's unlikely to meet Iranian expectations," a senior European diplomat told Reuters. "It's also not just about what the Europeans can do, but also how the Chinese, Russians, Indians, others can contribute."

President Donald Trump pulled the US out of the multinational deal in May under which sanctions on Iran were lifted in return for curbs on its nuclear program.

Washington has since told countries they must stop buying the OPEC producer's oil from November or face financial consequences.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian also did not express optimism for an economic package for Iran before sanctions kick in in November, and warned Iran to stop threatening to break its commitments to the accord. 

"They must stop permanently threatening to break their commitments to the nuclear deal," Le Drian told RTL radio.

"They must stop the threats so that we can find the solutions so that Iran can have the necessary economic compensations."

He said the European powers but also Russia and China were working on coming up with a financial mechanism to mitigate planned tough US sanctions.

"We are trying to do it before sanctions are imposed at the start of August and then another set of sanctions in November. For the start August it seems a bit short, but we are trying to do it by November," he said.

The European Union's strategy includes a special measure to shield EU companies from US secondary sanctions and a Commission proposal that EU governments make direct money transfers to Iran's central bank to avoid US penalties.

"The Iranians expect the others to say what we are going to do to keep the deal alive. We will have to see if it is going to be good enough for them," an EU source added.

Friday's crucial meeting follows a visit to Europe this week by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani who warned that Iran could reduce its co-operation with the UN nuclear watchdog having already threatened Trump of the "consequences" of fresh sanctions against Iranian oil sales, including closing the strategic Strait of Hormuz waterway in the Persian Gulf.