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EU hopes to take Iran deal out of ‘intensive care’ within weeks

Luke James
Brussels correspondent
UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson with his counterparts from France, Germany, the EU and Iran (Getty)

The Iran nuclear deal is in “intensive care” but could be nursed back to health within weeks, according to EU foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini. She announced the EU and Iran have launched “expert discussions” on measures needed to save the deal thrown into doubt by Donald’s Trump’s decision to withdraw the US last week.

Mogherini said the talks must be turned into concrete solutions within weeks to save the 2013 agreement, which lifted economic sanctions in return for limits on Iran’s nuclear programme.

“The speed of the process is and has to be fast,” Mogherini told a late night press conference.
“We talked about the need to do this exercise in the next few weeks.”

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“If we want to save this deal, we know that the sooner we manage to do it the better and the easier it will be.”

Mogherini spoke after chairing emergency talks between interested parties in Brussels.

UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, as well as his French and German counterparts, met Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in Brussels.

The group likened the state of the deal to a “relative in intensive care”, according to Mogherini.

“We all want to get him or her out of intensive care as soon as possible,” she said.

Speaking as he left the meeting, Zarif said: “We are on the right track … a lot will depend on what we can do in next few weeks.”

Ministers meeting in Brussels in a bid to save the Iran deal (Getty)

Talks are already underway between the EU and Iran about how to maintain trade amid the reintroduction of US sanctions which could see European companies penalised.

Iran is seeking assurances over the sale of its oil and gas to Europe, as well as its continued ability to access financial services.

The EU wants to ensure exports to Iran, which have exploded since the deal was signed in 2013, can continue.

French exports to Iran doubled last year to €1.5bn, while German exports rose by €400m to €3bn.

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Speaking ahead of the meeting, Boris Johnson said he wanted to “protect legitimate UK and European businesses, who may want to trade with Iran, who do want to trade with Iran, and who have great plans to do that.”

He admitted though that US sanction would “serve as a deterrent to businesses.”

Mogherini said she couldn’t give any legal or economic guarantees to Iran about the continuation of the deal.

But she added: “Normally when we work together – committed, determined, with good faith and good will, even in difficult circumstances – we get to good achievements.”

Prime Minister Theresa May will be present when talks on the issue continue tomorrow evening at an EU leaders summit in Sofia, Bulgaria.