EU Defends Iran Nuclear Pact, Stays Silent on Deadly Clampdown

From Left Deputy Iran FM Abbas Araghchi Former President of UNGA Mogens Lykketoft Former Italian Prime Minister Massimo D'Alema Former British FM Jack Straw Oman's FM Yusuf bin Alawi and Former Iranian FM Kamal Kharrazi in a Panel of Tehran Security

It comes after foreign ministers met with their Iranian counterpart and top European Union diplomat Federica Mogherini in Brussels and as the USA administration decides whether to reimpose oil sanctions lifted under the deal.

The push for new sanctions appears to have gained new life amid the recent wave of anti-regime protests in Iran and more specifically the Iranian government's harsh crackdown on demonstrators last week.

The JCPOA, enacted in 2015 by Iran, the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council and Germany, allowed the lifting of worldwide sanctions on Iran in exchange for compliance with restrictions on its nuclear program.

"The aim is to send a message to Washington that Iran is complying and that it is better to have the nuclear agreement than to isolate Tehran", one diplomat said. At the same time, USA law requires the president to decide every 90 days whether to "certify" that the nuclear deal remains in America's national security interests.

The Trump administration's deadline on whether to decertify the pact or reimpose oil sanctions on Iran is mid-January, and the State Department said on Tuesday the administration was expected to decide on Friday.

Boris Johnson, the British foreign secretary, who represented one of the three EU states in the meeting hosted by the European Commission took the stance that the U.S. must come up with a viable alternative before it can scrap the agreement.

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"It is vital that we continue to work with our European partners to preserve the Iran deal, and with it the security and prosperity it is bringing to the people of Iran and the world", he said.

Mogherini, who played an important role in crafting the nuclear accord, has vowed to preserve the deal and has lobbied USA lawmakers in Washington.

On behalf of the bloc, the meeting is being attended by the EU's High Representative / Vice-President Federica Mogherini, the UK foreign secretary, Boris Johnson, the German minister Sigmar Gabriel and his French counterpart Jean-Yves Le Drian, as all three member states, the UK, France and Germany played central role in the nuclear deal that was negotiated back in 2015.

With Tehran and USA allies in Europe stepping up pressure to preserve the 2015 Iranian nuclear accord, President Trump appears poised to back away from a threat to pull America out of the deal, opting instead for new, albeit more targeted, sanctions against Iranian officials and entities.

He accused Iran of "not living up to the spirit" of the nuclear agreement even though the International Atomic Energy Agency says Tehran is in fact in compliance.

Officials have said the majority have since been released, with only the main "instigators" facing trial. European countries are banking on the deal, as many began investing in Iran after the sanctions were lifted.

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