Brussels, Belgium.- Major European powers sought Tuesday to keep Iran committed to a deal to prevent it from building a nuclear bomb despite deep misgivings about Tehran’s Middle East politics and President Donald Trump’s vehement opposition.
The U.S. already pulled out of the pact of the major global powers with Iran and promised tough economic sanctions that could hurt companies in the European Union as well. Instead, the EU nations sought to show Iran on Tuesday they stand by diplomatic commitments.
It left EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini and the foreign ministers from Britain, France and Germany — signatories of the 2015 deal to stop Iran developing nuclear weapons — with their backs against the wall as they prepared for a dinner meeting with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.
But the EU officials were hopeful that diplomacy and the promise of economic benefits could keep Iran in the fold of a nuclear deal they see as essential to security.
“We will be looking at a package of measures we may be able to devise as Europeans to encourage Iran to stay in,” British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said. “We will look at potential options for supporting continued sanctions relief for Iran to ensure we meet our commitments under the deal.”
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said that “it won’t be easy, that’s clear to all of us. But if we want to stay in this agreement and ensure that Iran stays in this agreement and abides to the terms of the agreement, then we need to talk about this.”
Zarif seemed open to the European stance and said he had a “very good and constructive” initial one-on-one with Mogherini. After an hour-long meeting at EU headquarters in Brussels, Zarif said he believed both sides were “on the right track” to make sure that the interests of Iran and the non-U.S. partners “will be preserved and guaranteed.”