Lavrov calls situation on Iran deal a 'crisis'

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Iran's foreign minister said today that meetings with European Union leaders on salvaging the nuclear deal sent a strong political message but must now be turned into action.

Iran's foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, met Federica Mogherini, the EU external affairs chief, on Tuesday morning and will meet the foreign ministers of France, Germany and the United Kingdom - the three European signatories to the deal - in the evening.

"We reaffirmed together our resolve to continue to implement the nuclear deal in all its parts, in good faith, and in a constructive atmosphere, and we agreed to continue to consult intensively at all levels and also with other remaining participants of the Joint Commission to the JCPOA", Mogherini said.

US President Donald Trump withdrew America from the historic Iran agreement last week, but other nations, including the UK, France, and Germany, have said that they will continue to uphold it.

But last week US President Donald Trump announced he was leaving the deal and reimposing sanctions. The minister said he wanted France, Germany and Britain to reach out to the USA administration and ask for "exemptions, additional deadlines, or to respect the contracts that have been agreed in good faith by our businesses in Iran".

"I cannot talk about legal or economic guarantees but I can talk about serious, determined, immediate work from the European side", Mogherini said.

On Sunday, US National Security Adviser John Bolton threatened the European allies that Washington is prepared to impose sanctions on European companies if their governments refuse to heed Trump's demand to stop dealing with Iran.

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said that "it won't be easy, that's clear to all of us". In a statement Tuesday, Boris Johnson said the United Kingdom remains "fully committed to upholding" the deal, and is working with France and Germany to "explore the best way forward".

Iran's foreign minister visits Moscow on Monday as Russian Federation tries to keep the Iran nuclear deal alive in the wake of Washington's pull-out, pushing it into rare cooperation with Europe.

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Germany, the United Kingdom, and France have significant trade links with Iran and remain committed to the nuclear agreement.

After long negotiations, Iran agreed in July 2015 to freeze its nuclear program in return for the repeal of punishing global sanctions.

Major European powers and Tehran committed Tuesday to keep working together to save the Iran nuclear deal despite U.S. President Donald Trump's determination to kill it off. Following Trump's decision, the Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control sanctioned nine Iranian individuals and entities including those with links to Iran's Revolutionary Guard.

Iran's nuclear chief Ali Akbar Salehi was quoted by Fars news agency as saying he was not optimistic on the prospects of the talks with the Europeans.

"We have to be realistic about the electrified rail, the live wire of American extraterritoriality and how (it) can serve as a deterrent to business", Johnson told reporters.

But, she added, "with the nuclear deal in place we have better chances to address any other issues we have to address with Iran".

At the weekend, EU Energy Commissioner Miguel Arias Canete is due to visit Tehran to discuss energy cooperation between Iran and the bloc.

Pre-existing U.S. sanctions against Iran have hit European Union firms, with large fines imposed since 2009 on European Union banks with USA subsidiaries, such as HSBC, Standard Chartered, ING, Barclays, Credit Suisse BNP and Lloyds.

German exports to Iran totalled almost €3bn (£2.6bn) in 2017, while French exports soared from €562m in 2015 to €1.5bn in 2017.

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