PM Hopeful Jeremy Hunt Claims Iran Deal Failure Poses ‘Existential Threat’ Ahead of EU Meeting

Britain's Secretary of State Jeremy Hunt, speaks in a press conference with Kenya Cabinet Secretary for Foreign Affairs Monica Juma, during his official visit, in Nairobi, Kenya, Friday, May 3, 2019

© AP Photo / Khalil Senosi


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Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt earlier attempted to de-escalate the UK-Iran situation in the Gulf by saying an Iranian-owned oil tanker seized by the British off Gibraltar 10 days ago might be released if Tehran pledged the ship’s owners would abandon plans to unload oil in Syria.

Escalating tensions in the Middle East and failure of the Iran nuclear accord could pose an “existential threat” to mankind, UK Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt will reportedly say on Monday, writes The Guardian.

On the eve of an EU meeting in Brussels, the UK foreign secretary will underscore the importance of the deal, ditched unilaterally by US President Donald Trump in May 2018.

The Guardian writes that Hunt will say:

“The Middle East is already one of the most unstable regions in the world, but if the different parties were armed with nuclear weapons it would represent an existential threat to mankind. I will do everything in my power to prevent that from happening”.

“I’ll be building on the leadership shown by the UK, alongside France and Germany, as we do what it takes to maintain the nuclear deal, and to work to encourage Iran back into compliance”.

On the situation involving the seized Iranian vessel in Gibraltar, it is claimed he will add: “As I said to the Iranians this weekend, the detention of the Grace 1 was a Gibraltar-led enforcement of EU Syria sanctions. Action had to be taken, and this was nothing to do with the oil being Iranian”.

Earlier, in a phone call to the Iranian foreign minister Javad Zarif on Saturday, the candidate vying to replace outgoing PM Theresa May made an effort to defuse the heated situation around the recent UK-Iran standoff in the Gulf, claiming the Iranian oil tanker being held by UK authorities in Gibraltar would be released if there was a guarantee from Tehran it was not heading to Syria.

 A picture shows supertanker Grace 1 off the coast of Gibraltar on July 6, 2019
A picture shows supertanker Grace 1 off the coast of Gibraltar on July 6, 2019

After speaking with Hunt, the Iranian foreign minister said Iran should be allowed to sell oil to any country it wished, branding the UK seizure of Grace 1 nothing short of an act of piracy, as Iranian government sources insisted the tanker was not bound for Syria.

The three European signatories to the nuclear deal with Iran – France, Germany, and the UK – issued a joint statement ahead of today’s EU meeting, also urging compliance from Iran, as they spoke of the risks for all “stakeholders” and insisting the time had come to “act responsibly”:

“We are concerned by the risk that the nuclear deal further unravels under the strain of sanctions imposed by the United States and following Iran’s decision to no longer implement several of the central provisions of the agreement”.

Iran, however, has told Europe it will not change its decision to increase uranium enrichment beyond the limits set by the 2015 nuclear accord until it achieves its “full rights” to an economic relationship with the EU under the deal.

In a televised speech on Sunday, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani reiterated his country’s stance:

“We have always believed in talks … if they lift sanctions, end the imposed economic pressure and return to the deal”.

Rouhani also warned the UK it would face as yet unspecified consequences for detaining Tehran’s oil tanker.

Tensions between the UK and Iran flared earlier this month when the Iranian oil tanker Grace 1 was seized by British Royal Marines off the coast of the British Mediterranean territory on suspicion of violating EU sanctions on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s government.

Iran has since demanded the ship be released and denied it was taking oil to Syria.

Since pulling out of the Iran nuclear deal, Washington has imposed punishing sanctions against Tehran, in a move to cut its oil exports to zero.

Although European countries do not have sanctions against Iran, they do have sanctions targeting Syria since 2011.

Back in 2015, the US, China, Britain, France, Russia, and Germany signed a deal with Iran to limit its nuclear programme in exchange for a partial removal of international economic sanctions.

US President Donald Trump, long critical of the deal, claimed it had stopped short of curbing Iran’s ballistic missile programme, and pulled the US out of it on 8 May 2018.

In this photo released by the official website of the office of the Iranian Presidency, President Hassan Rouhani speaks in a cabinet meeting in Tehran, Iran, Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Iran Ready to Hold Talks With US if Sanctions Lifted – Rouhani

© AP Photo / Iranian Presidency Office


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MOSCOW (Sputnik) – Iran is ready to hold negotiations with the United States if Washington lifts sanctions and gives up “bullying”, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on Sunday.

Earlier in the day, Berlin, Paris, and London called for a dialogue between all parties to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), saying the deal risks falling apart due to the US sanctions against Iran and Tehran’s decision to partially discontinue its obligations.

“We are always ready for negotiation. I tell you this hour and this moment to abandon bullying and lift the sanctions and return to logic and wisdom. We are ready”, Rouhani said, as quoted by the Mehr news agency.

Rouhani added that Iran had shifted its approach from “strategic patience” to “reciprocal action” and would respond in kind to any of Washington’s steps related to the nuclear deal.

On 8 May 2018, US President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew his country from the JCPOA and imposed several rounds of economic sanctions on Iran. A year later, Tehran announced its own decision to partially suspend some obligations under the deal and giving the other signatories – France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Russia, China, and the European Union – 60 days to save the accord by facilitating oil exports and trade with Iran.

On 7 July as the deadline expired, Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Seyed Abbas Araghchi announced that his country was ready to begin enriching uranium beyond the 3.67 percent level set in the JCPOA, adding that Tehran would continue to gradually abandon its nuclear commitments every 60 days.

Sun Jul 14, 2019 10:59PM [Updated: Mon Jul 15, 2019 05:24AM ]

File photo of Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif (left) and EU Foreign Policy Chief Federica Mogherini attending a joint press conference on Feb. 16, 2016 (Photo by IRNA)

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif says the Europeans do not seem ready yet to put investment into saving the 2015 nuclear agreement with Iran, despite their claim to be willing to retain it.

“The Europeans claim they were willing to maintain the JCPOA, but we have not seen Europe yet to be ready for an investment,” he told reporters upon arrival in New York, where he is going to attend a high-level UN meeting.

Expressing one’s interest and preparedness to save an international agreement “is totally different from being ready to make the investments required to save that deal and the Europeans have not done that yet,” Zarif said.

Britain, France, and Germany in January announced the establishment of a mechanism aimed at enabling non-dollar trade between the 28-nation bloc and Iran, officially called the Instrument in Support of Trade Exchanges (INSTEX).

The apparatus is supposed to circumvent the sanctions that the United States began re-imposing against Iran after leaving the 2015 nuclear deal with the Islamic Republic, the E3, and Russia and China.

Europe says 10 European states as well as some non-EU member states will join the trade instrument and use the apparatus for business purposes with the Islamic Republic.

The trade channel came into force after Iran complained why the European countries did not keep up their trade with the country as the nuclear deal mandates them to, and instead bow under the US sanctions targeting the Islamic Republic

Time for ‘isolated’ US to return to world community

In his Sunday remarks, Zarif also referred to the recent meeting of the UN Security Council and a meeting of the Board of Governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), and described them as a proof of the US’ isolation in the world.

“In all these meetings, the US’ unilateral policies have been condemned; now it’s time for Washington to return to the international community,” he added.

The UN nuclear watchdog’s special meeting was held on Wednesday at Washington’s request to win the Board of Governors’ support for its anti-Iran claims, but it finally turned into another failure for Americans.

The meeting was held a few days after Iran increased the level of its uranium enrichment to 4.5%, which is beyond the limit set by the JCPOA (the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action).

The move was part of the second phase of the country’s May 8 decision to reduce its commitments under the multilateral 2015 nuclear deal in reaction to the US violations and Europe’s inaction.

Eggie Offo
I thought big-mouthed Iran could solve problems on her own without help from Europeans. Sanctions are biting Iran very hard and causing pains to ordinary Iranians. Iran must be aware that the US is most powerful nation on earth economically with over $20trillion GDP . Iran better renegotiate terms or “MAXIMUM PRESSURE ” which could cause a damage before late submission. This my advise .
Joachim Hannahvor 9 Minuten
The USA & UN have no authority over anything in Iran, including nuclear.
They are inept and corrupt and unable to reign in USA currency crimes.
Huchivor 26 Minuten
Forget Europe. Iran should look to the East for investment.
khosrovor 1 Stunde
I believe that Iran’s doctrine about gradually reducing its commitments under the multilateral 2015 nuclear deal because of imposing sanctions is quite rational and while the related EU’ countries do not properly fulfill their commitments determined at the deal should continue it.
George Kingvor 3 Stunden
The world needs a source of Nuclear power ships and small portable nuclear power plans for sale. Iran could be that source!
TAXCOLLECTOR2017> George Kingvor 1 Stunde
Excellent assessment.
Talatvor 5 Stunden
I pray US keeps on being Isolated
Maximum Pressure, Maximum Resistancevor 6 Stunden
We will, as we must continue resisting any and all pressure from the arrogant powers, at the same time we apply our own pressure to E3 to put their money where their mouth is, at the same time we must, as we are continue deepening our relationship with our friends and neighbors and partners, to find alternative ways to trade, eventually we will be immunized to all these economic acts of terror, that day is closer than most may think, the worst days of this economic warfare is behind us, they shall not see the Iranian nation on its knees.

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