EU vows to save Iran deal, fears for
North Korea mediation
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[October 16, 2017]
By Robin Emmott and Gabriela Baczynska
LUXEMBOURG (Reuters) - The European Union
vowed on Monday to defend a 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world
powers and urged U.S. lawmakers not to reimpose sanctions after
President Donald Trump chose not to certify Tehran's compliance with the
Germany and France led a chorus of warnings to the United States,
normally the EU's closest foreign policy ally, that any weakening of the
agreement to prevent Iran obtaining nuclear weapons could have serious
consequences for peace.
"As Europeans together, we are very worried that the decision of the
U.S. president could lead us back into military confrontation with
Iran," German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel told reporters at a
meeting with his EU counterparts.
EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, who chaired the final phase
of the 2015 negotiations, held closed-door talks on how the 28-nation
bloc should proceed and ministers were also set to discuss how to tackle
Iran's ballistic missile program.
Mogherini has insisted the nuclear deal is working, while the
International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) says Iran is complying. Trump
has dubbed it "the worst deal ever negotiated".
"Non-proliferation is a major element of world security and rupturing
that would be extremely damaging," French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le
Drian told reporters. "We hope that Congress does not put this accord in
The European Union already has members of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary
Guard Corps under sanctions, which Trump on Friday singled out as he
detailed a more aggressive approach to Tehran.
While NATO has a newly-installed missile shield in Romania to
potentially shoot down any Iranian rockets, EU governments want to see
Tehran dismantle its growing arsenal. Tehran says the rockets are for
purely defensive purposes.
But while several EU governments, including the Netherlands and Britain,
said Iran's ballistic missiles and Tehran's interventions in Syria and
Yemen were a concern, ministers said the immediate focus had to be
saving the 2015 deal.
Negotiated after 12 years of talks that EU diplomats helped to initiate
and carry through, the accord with Iran is the most significant
diplomatic success for the bloc in several decades.
[to top of second column]
French Foreign Affairs Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian speaks during a
news conference at the headquarters of the prime minister's office
in Tripoli, Libya September 4, 2017 . REUTERS/Ismail Zitouny
NORTH KOREA SPILLOVER
Many worry that the EU's reputation as an honest broker in a host of
future conflicts may not recover if the U.S. Congress reimposes
sanctions on Iran and causes the deal to collapse.
Most U.N. and Western sanctions were lifted more than 18 months ago
under the deal. Tehran is still subject to a U.N. arms embargo,
which is not part of the deal.
At their meeting in Luxembourg, the EU's foreign ministers are also
due to approve a new round of economic sanctions on North Korea
after Pyongyang's nuclear test last month. Many governments still
hold out hope of repeating the Iran deal with North Korea.
Sweden is one of only seven EU countries with an embassy in
Pyongyang and its foreign minister, Margot Wallstrom, reiterated
that Stockholm could be counted on to help negotiate if asked.
But Germany's Gabriel warned that Trump's decision not to certify
the Iran accord could put any such scenario in doubt.
"My concern is that, if we want to talk to North Korea now, the
possible end for the nuclear deal with Iran would jeopardize the
credibility of such treaties," Gabriel said.
(Additional reporting by Peter Maushagen in Luxembourg and Lily
Cusack in Brussels; Editing by Gareth Jones)
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