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EU ‘Pleased’ With Armenian Support For Iran Nuclear Deal

BELGIUM -- European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini (R) meets with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif prior to a meeting of the E-3 and Iran at the Europa building in Brussels, May 15, 2018

The European Union has praised Armenia for supporting its efforts to save the 2015 international agreement on Iran’s nuclear program despite the withdrawal of the United States.

The issue was on the agenda of the first meeting of the EU-Armenia Partnership Council held in Brussels on Thursday. The meeting was co-chaired by the EU foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, and Armenian Foreign Minister Zohrab Mnatsakanian.

“Both parties confirmed their commitment to their international obligations with regard to Iran,” read a joint statement on the session.

“We discussed the implementation of the nuclear agreement with Iran,” Mogherini said at a news conference. “I was pleased to hear the [Armenian foreign] minister's support to our work to preserve the nuclear deal with Iran.”

“We discussed ways to work together in that direction,” she added.

Armenia - Federica Mogherini and Zohrab Mnatsakanian meet in Brussels, 21 Jun 2018.
Armenia - Federica Mogherini and Zohrab Mnatsakanian meet in Brussels, 21 Jun 2018.

Under the 2015 accord welcomed by Armenia, Tehran agreed to major curbs on its nuclear program in return for the lifting of international sanctions against the Islamic Republic. U.S. President Donald Trump controversially pulled out of the deal last month.

The U.S. move was criticized by the other world powers that signed it: France, Germany, Britain, Russia and China. They have since been trying to salvage the accord. The EU is particularly active in that endeavor.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani reportedly complained about Trump’s decision in a May 14 phone call with Armenia’s newly elected Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian. According to Iranian media, Pashinian assured Rouhani that Armenia remains very supportive of the nuclear deal.

The Armenian leadership has also made clear that it will press ahead with joint economic projects with Iran despite the recent re-imposition of U.S. sanctions on Tehran. Pashinian called for “new impetus” to Armenian-Iranian ties when he met with the Iranian ambassador in Yerevan, Seyed Kazem Sajjad, on June 8.

The two men discussed, among other things, the ongoing construction of a new power transmission line and long-standing plans to build a hydroelectric plant on the Armenian-Iranian border.

The high-voltage line will stretch almost 280 kilometers towards that border through Armenia’s eastern regions. It will allow the two neighboring states to sharply expand a swap arrangement involving supplies of Armenian electricity and Iranian natural gas.

The Armenian Energy Ministry said on Friday that “large-scale” work on the $125 million facility resumed in May. An Iranian construction company is due to finish it next year.