Iran has given Europe until November 5 to come up with “practical mechanisms” to fulfill its pledge to reduce the negative impact of US economic sanctions on the Islamic Republic, Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi said Tuesday.
Speaking on state TV, Araghchi said “We have informed the Europeans in unambiguous terms of our main priority regarding the JCPOA: if the issue of oil exports is not addressed, staying in the nuclear agreement would not be of any benefit for us.”
Regarding concerns in Iran about the EU’s unwillingness to take practical steps to resist the US embargo, he said, “Our talks with Europe are close and intense, but we believe we should separate their political positions from the practical steps that they want to take,” Mehr News Agency reported.
The second batch of US sanctions imposed on Iran mainly targets its banking system and oil exports. It is expected to be implemented on November 4, a day before the deadline Tehran has set for Europe.
Meanwhile, Araghchi admitted that the Europeans have not taken practical steps to implement the JCPOA, stressing that Iran has not solely relied on talks with them because there is always the possibility that they are procrastinating.
Regarding the exit of European companies from Iran, Araghchi said the companies are private entities that have left based on their “own cost and benefit analyses.”
He maintained that the talks with Europeans are focused on the implementation of the JCPOA and Iran’s missile program has never been on the agenda.
On August 29, the Leader of Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei said talks with US representatives is “forbidden,” while insisting that President Hassan Rouhani’s government should not rely on Europe for addressing the countries worsening economic problems.
Officials in Tehran have often said that they expect the European Union to guarantee purchasing Iranian oil and clear the way for Tehran’s financial transactions.
Iranian oil exports to the EU, nearly 740,000 barrels per day last March, dropped to 387,000 barrels per day in August.
On May 8, US President Donald Trump withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal and reimposed economic sanctions.
The first batch of U.S. sanctions came into effect on August 6, giant European companies including France’s Total and carmaker Renault suspended plans to invest in Iran. Days later, Air France, British Airways, and Dutch KLM announced that they too were suspending flights to Iran.
A second batch of U.S sanctions targeting Iran’s oil sector and central bank are to come into effect on November 4.
Araghchi tried to downplay the impact of the second batch of sanctions. “We will not see more intensified sanctions (in November) than what has been imposed so far by the Americans,” he said.
In words of the senior official, “The Americans are now maintaining the maximum restrictions on Iran. They are going from one company to another, from one country to another, and even from an individual to another to force them to end cooperation with Iran.”