Oct 1, 2018, 12:37 PM
News Code: 83050401
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Oil deals with Europeans close despite threat of US sanctions: Zarif

Tehran, Oct 1, IRNA – Tehran is close to signing agreements to sell oil to Europe despite US threats to sanction countries that do business with Iran, said Iran Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.

'If the arrangement comes to fruition — some British and French officials say they have their doubts — it would constitute the most open break between President Trump and European allies that objected vociferously to his decision to pull out of the 2015 nuclear deal,' New York Times wrote on Saturday.

'Several of European nations openly confronted Trump on Wednesday, when he led a United Nations Security Council meeting about weapons of mass destruction. They argued that he was throwing away the best chance the world has to keep Iran from building nuclear weapons in coming years,' added New York Times.

NYT wrote that in an hour-long conversation with reporters, Zarif, who negotiated the nuclear accord with then Secretary of State John Kerry sounded far more optimistic than he had in recent months that he could peel away America’s traditional allies to break Trump’s effort to cut off Iran’s revenues.

Zarif is capitalizing on a renewed enthusiasm among some of the allies to push back at what they term bullying by Washington to sever ties with Iran simply because Trump decided to forsake the nuclear pact. All the other signatories to the agreement — Britain, China, France, Germany, Iran and Russia — have vowed to stand by it, NYT added.

European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said this past week, “No sovereign country or organization can accept that somebody else decides with whom you are allowed to do trade with.'

She predicted that the financial arrangements could be in place before Trump issues the next set of sanctions in November, aimed at banks, businesses and countries that conduct business with Tehran.

At the core of the agreement that Iran and Europe are trying to forge is a mechanism for paying for Iran’s oil in barter and local currencies, rather than in American dollars. The idea is to route around the United States and prevent it from blocking financial transfers — and perhaps from identifying those involved in the transactions.

“This is for us to sell our oil and get the proceeds,” Zarif said, noting that under the United Nations resolutions passed once the 2015 agreement was reached, countries have the legal right to trade with Iran.

Trump has threatened to bar companies engaged in buying Iranian oil, or other goods, from doing business in the United States. The threat has led companies to flee Tehran.

British and French officials say it is possible Trump will prevail, with European firms from Airbus to Total, already canceling billions of dollars of investment in Iran in anticipation of the additional American sanctions.

Zarif seemed on Saturday to have no interest in the kind deal with Iran which Trump adminsitran is seeking . He conceded that Trump may win the opening rounds of what has essentially become a litmus test of whether countries will follow the president’s confrontational approach.

He and Iran's President Hassan Rouhani have said Trump is trying to bait them into violating the accord, setting the stage for a resumption of the long-running crisis that the 2015 deal was supposed to de-escalate.

Zarif was dismissive of Trump’s escalating verbal attacks on Iran’s missile sales and its support of Hezbollah, Hamas and the Syrian government of Bashar al-Assad. He laughed when asked whether the United States could bring down the current Iranian government with mounting financial pressure

Regarding the possibility of a US attack on Iranian facilities, he said, “If the US believed it would have succeeded in such an attack, it would have done so already.”

Asked about his recent conversations with Kerry, Zarif said, 'What he has done is encourage us to stay in the deal.”

As for the threats by Trump to investigate Kerry, he said, “I didn’t realize you still had witch hunts going on in the United States” — a nod to one of Trump’s favorite phrases about the Russia investigation.

Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu said on Thursday that Iran had hidden nuclear-related components in a warehouse in Tehran. Reacting to such a claim, Zarif said that he believed that it was a cleaning facility for Persian rugs.


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