Last month, the European Union announced the creation of a barter-based trade mechanism with Iran to allow the parties to avoid US sanctions, but Iran has said that the tool would be useless unless it included oil sales and provided Iran with a credit line as it feels the pinch of Washington’s “maximum pressure” campaign.
The European signatories to the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action have paid spoken about the need to preserve the nuclear agreement, but have not shown a willingness to invest in saving it, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has said.
“The Europeans claim they were willing to maintain the JCPOA, but we have not seen Europe yet to be ready for an investment,” Zarif said, speaking to reporters at the UN’s headquarters in New York, according to Press TV.
Statements of intent and signs of interest in the deal are “totally different from being ready to make the investments required to save that deal and the Europeans have not done that yet,” the foreign minister added, referring to the Instrument in Support of Trade Exchanges (INSTEX), an EU-wide mechanism designed to facilitate Iran-EU trade.
Supported by France, the UK, and Germany, three of the signatories of the 2015 nuclear agreement, INXTEX was created after the US unilaterally withdrew from the treaty in May 2018 and slapped Iran with tough energy and banking sanctions.
Based on a form of barter, the mechanism allows Europe and Iran to circumvent US sanctions, but has been so far been limited to trade in basic items such as food and pharmaceuticals. Iran has pushed for the system to include crude oil, which serves as one of Tehran’s main export lifelines, but the European diplomats have remained cautious, fearing a US backlash.
In May, Italy and Greece, two major importers of Iran’s crude oil supplies, cut their oil trade with the country after US sanctions waivers on the country ran out. India, Japan, and South Korea have followed suit, leaving China as the only original major importer to buck Washington’s sanctions threats and to express support for Iran amid what it called US “bullying”.
Calling on the US to “return to the international community,” Zarif said that Washington’s “unilateral policies” were “condemned” during his meetings at the UN, and during talks with senior officials from the International Atomic Energy Agency.
In the spring, on the one year anniversary of the US exit from the JCPOA, Iran said that it would give the deal’s other signatories, France, the UK, Germany, Russia, China and the European Union, sixty days to work to save the accord by facilitating oil exports and trade with Iran. On July 7, the deadline expired, and Tehran announced that it would start enriching its uranium stocks beyond the 3.67 percent level outlined in the JCPOA, and continue to gradually reduce its commitments under the treaty every 60 days unless the other signatories met their commitments.
The other signatories of the JCPOA have expressed concerns over Iran’s heightened enrichment activities, even as Iran has continued to insist that it has no intention of pursuing a nuclear weapon. For the record, although concentrations of uranium-235 of 20 percent or above are technically sufficient to create a nuclear bomb, weapons-grade uranium is defined as uranium which has a uranium-235 concentration of 85 percent or above.