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EU's Mogherini Says Special Trade Mechanism For Iran 'Operational'


File photo:European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini give a press conference during a joint Foreign Affairs Council / Eastern Partnership in Brussels, Belgium, 13 May 2019.

The European Union Foreign Policy Chief Federica Mogherini says a special mechanism to allow trade with Iran is expected to be launched soon.

In a joint press conference after talks with Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on June 25, in Brussels, Mogherini said the Instrument for Trade and Exchanges, INSTEX may soon be ready and operational.

INSTEX is a new European payment system for barter-based trade with Iran designed to circumvent U.S. sanctions imposed on Tehran.

Iranian authorities in recent weeks have intensified their attacks on the European parties to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) or Tehran's nuclear deal with world powers for dragging their feet on implementation of INSTEX.

Following the withdrawal of Washington from the JCPOA in May 2018, and renewal of the U.S. sanctions on the Islamic Republic, Tehran has been experiencing unprecedented economic pressures.

Mogherini affirmed on Tuesday that the representatives of the remaining parties to the JCPOA, China and Russia, along with the European trio, Britain, France, Germany, and Iran are set to hold a joint session Friday, June 28.

Federica Mogherini, whose term as the European Union Foreign Policy Chief ends next October, admitted last Tuesday that JCPOA's current condition was probably the most difficult one for keeping the agreement alive and in place.

"We are trying all we can, and we continue to do all we can to maintain the implementation of the Iran nuclear deal intact. We will continue to do so in these days, the most difficult days for the nuclear deal you can imagine," Mogherini said.

Reacting to Tehran's protests, Mogherini insisted, "We have been working a lot with our member states on a mechanism to allow legitimate trade with Iran. I believe now this is ready to be operational and I hope that this is something that can help Iran (remain) compliant with the agreement as it has done so far."

The Islamic Republic has repeatedly threatened that it might withdraw from the deal if the EU3 (Britain, France, and Germany) hesitate to make INSTEX operational.

Infographic:The Instrument in Support of Trade Exchanges(INSTEX)
Infographic:The Instrument in Support of Trade Exchanges(INSTEX)

"The European Union has vowed to counter Trump's renewed sanctions on Iran, including through a new law to shield European companies from punitive measures, but it has so far failed to do anything beyond making statements," the official news outlets in the Islamic Republic have lamented.

Responding to Iran's warning that it might drop the JCPOA, the official website of the European Union cited Mogherini, as saying, "As I already had the opportunity to say before, the deal has, in itself, mechanisms and steps that can be taken in case of non-compliance with the agreement. However, the focus we keep today, and we will still keep even more so in these days that are probably the most difficult ones for the agreement, is to keep the agreement in place and to keep full compliance with the agreement."

In a new round of punishment, Washington announced Monday that it had added the Islamic Republic Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and his appointees, to the list of individuals sanctioned.

Nonetheless, Iran has scaled back its compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal, threatening to further decrease its commitments under the JCPOA.

Iran has already suspended parts of its voluntary practices under the JCPOA on May 8, the anniversary of the United States' pullout from the nuclear deal.

In the meantime, Tehran has set a July 7 deadline for EU3 to come up with better terms for Tehran to remain loyal to the JCPOA. If that deadline passes without any action, President Hassan Rouhani has cautioned the Islamic Republic likely will resume higher uranium enrichment.

Responding to Tehran threats, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has affirmed that if Tehran doesn't comply with the nuclear agreement, "that will, of course, have consequences."

European officials have not yet elaborated on what exactly would happen if Tehran decided to drop the nuclear deal.

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