German leader argues for preserving Iran deal

Clay Curtis
May 17, 2018

German Chancellor Angela Merkel pushed back on Wednesday against Washington's rejection of the Iran nuclear deal, saying the accord helped outside powers anxious about Tehran's regional role to pursue their concerns with the Islamic Republic.

Merkel said in a speech to a labor union congress in Berlin that President Donald Trump's decision to withdraw from the 2015 agreement marked "a shift in German-American, in European-American relations".

On Tuesday, EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said that after talks with the foreign ministers of the United Kingdom, France, Germany, and Iran in Brussels, the sides had agreed to work out practical solutions in response to the U.S. withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), known as the Iran nuclear deal, within the next few weeks.

Merkel told the German parliament on May 16 that while the pact was "anything but's not right to cancel this agreement in this situation now".

Meanwhile, Tehran is looking for guarantees from Europe that the deal can continue without the United States and warned it could restart its nuclear programme if talks fail.

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Trump last week announced he planned to reimpose an array of sanctions lifted by the accord, and the US Treasury on Tuesday imposed sanctions on Iran's central bank governor, three other individuals and an Iraq-based bank.

Tehran has accused the United States of trying to sabotage efforts to save a nuclear deal between Iran, Russia, Europe and China, following Washington's withdrawal last week from the accord.

The work, Mogherini said, was focusing on nine key areas including Iran's capacity to continue selling oil and gas as well as ways to protect European firms doing business in the country.

At meetings with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in Brussels on May 15, the European signatories vowed to keep the JCPOA alive despite the US withdrawal.

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