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Europe, Iran defy Donald Trump, pledge to preserve nuclear deal

November 26, 2018

Despite President Trump’s decision to take the U.S. out of the Iranian nuclear deal earlier this year, European Union and Iranian officials on Monday reaffirmed efforts to keep it alive.

Earlier this month the U.S. resumed sanctions on Iran’s shipping, financial and energy sectors, sending proponents of the deal, including Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the EU, scrambling to figure out how to use a currency other than the U.S. dollar in deals with Tehran. Observers say those efforts to establish a special mechanism for non-dollar transactions are facing major hurdles in the marketplace.

According to analysts, the so-called “Special Purpose Vehicle” (SPV) would serve as a type of clearinghouse matching purchases of EU goods with Iranian oil and gas sale in a type of barter arrangement. Thus far however, no European country has been willing to host the SPV, for fear of running afoul of U.S. secondary sanctions.

In a bid to address the crisis on Monday, EU and Iranian officials gathered for talks on civil nuclear cooperation in Brussels. The SPV was also a topic of discussion.

“Nobody should have any doubt on the level of political ambition and determination by the member states involved, in particular France, Germany and the United Kingdom, to swiftly operationalize the SPV,” EU Energy Commissioner Miguel Arias Canete told reporters.

Mr. Canete added that the nuclear deal, which was finalized in 2015 and provided Iran billions of dollars in sanctions relief in exchange for curbs on its nuclear programs, was working and was “crucial for the security of Europe, of the region and the entire world.”

Ali Akbar Salehi, head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization, warned there would be dire consequences if the deal could not be salvaged.

Mr. Salehi said in Brussels he believed the EU was “doing its best,” but added that “if words are not turned into deeds, ... the situation would be unpredictable.”

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