EU insists Iran nuclear deal must be part of any future pact

EU insists Iran nuclear deal must be part of any future pact (Source Associated Press)

The European Union’s top diplomat said Thursday that the existing nuclear deal between Iran and world powers must not be sacrificed as part of any U.S. moves to forge a new security agreement with Tehran amid attempts to set up a meeting between President Donald Trump and his Iranian counterpart.

Tensions have risen sharply between Washington and Tehran since Trump unilaterally pulled the U.S. out of the nuclear agreement last year.

As re-imposed and escalated U.S. sanctions kicked in, further hurting Iran’s virtually moribund economy, Iran lost billions of dollars in business deals allowed by the nuclear accord. The U.S. sanctions largely blocked Tehran from selling crude abroad, a crucial source of hard currency for the country. Separately, the Islamic Republic was accused of launching attacks on a number of cargo ships in the strategic Straits of Hormuz, at the mouth of the Persian Gulf.

The EU, meanwhile, has encouraged Iran to respect the nuclear deal and has set up a system to help keep money moving into the country. Tehran, however, has increased its uranium enrichment activities after the U.S. pullout from the nuclear deal.

At a G7 summit on Monday, Trump said there’s a “really good chance” he could meet Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, although Rouhani wants sanctions lifted before agreeing to such high-profile talks.

Asked at a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Finland what a possible meeting might mean for the Europeans, the bloc’s foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, said the pact aimed at curbing Iran’s nuclear ambitions is a multinational agreement enshrined in a U.N. Security Council resolution and that “what is existing needs to be preserved.”

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