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EU concerned over US stand on Iranian oil

By Chen Weihua in Brussels | China Daily | Updated: 2019-05-06 09:44

A gas flare on an oil production platform in the Soroush oil fields is seen alongside an Iranian flag in the Persian Gulf, Iran, in this file photo on July 25, 2005. [Photo/Agencies]

European nations say nuclear deal is key to stability, security in the Middle East region

The European Union and several of its key members expressed concern on Saturday over the United States' decision not to extend waivers on Iranian oil trade while reiterating their commitment to the 2015 nuclear deal.

The nuclear deal, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, was signed by Iran with EU, France, Germany, the UK, China, Russia and the US in 2015. Under the agreement, Iran receives relief from sanctions in return for restrictions on its nuclear program. Russia and several European nations help maintain the nuclear facilities and are engaged in converting equipment there for exclusively civilian use.

US President Donald Trump pulled the US out of the deal last year and unilaterally re-imposed sanctions on Iran.

The US announced on Friday that it would extend only five of the seven sanction waivers for up to 90 days regarding Iran's civilian nuclear activities but not the other two.

In a statement, the US State Department said assistance to expand Iran's Bushehr Nuclear Power Plant beyond the existing reactor unit and activities to transfer enriched uranium out of Iran in exchange for natural uranium could be sanctionable starting from Saturday.

The US said it will no longer permit the storage for Iran of heavy water it has produced in excess of current limits. Any such heavy water must no longer be available to Iran.

Last week, the US canceled all the sanction waivers on buying Iranian oil granted to eight economies, including China, India, Japan and Turkey.

The Trump administration has been waging a maximum pressure campaign on Iran to punish what it called Iran's activities "that threaten the region's stability", accusations that Iran has refuted.

The Saturday statement by the EU, France, Germany and the UK said they "take note with regret and concern" the US decision not to fully renew the waivers.

"The lifting of nuclear-related sanctions is an essential part of the JCPOA - it aims at having a positive impact not only on trade and economic relations with Iran, but most importantly on the lives of the Iranian people," said the statement by EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini and three foreign ministers - Jean-Yves Le Drian of France, Heiko Maas of Germany and Jeremy Hunt of the UK.

"We deeply regret the re-imposition of sanctions by the United States following their withdrawal from the JCPOA," said the statement.

The US allies in Europe said they remain deeply convinced that the JCPOA is key to increasing stability and security in the Middle East region, calling the agreement "a crucial element of the global nuclear non-proliferation regime and essential for our national and shared European security".

In its 14 reports, the International Atomic Energy Agency concluded that Iran has abided by the JCPOA, contrary to the views of the Trump administration.

The European nations vowed to continue the legitimate trade with Iran, including through the special purpose vehicle INSTEX (Instrument in Support of Trade Exchanges) set up to bypass the US financial system.

On Saturday, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani called his country to "resist and unite" against US pressure in what he termed a "war on hope" waged against the Islamic Republic, the Al Jazeera reported.

"America will only let go of this game when it realizes it cannot achieve anything. We have no way but to resist and unite," Rouhani said in a televised speech.

"Our war today is the war on hope. They want to break our hope, and we have to break their hope."

Rouhani said he has vowed that Iran will continue to supply oil to its major customers. "They want to cut our foreign currency supply ... they seek to sow discord in the country. They want us to be divided, to stand against each other," he said.


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