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Iran Nuclear Chief Hopes EU Will Deliver 'By The End Of The Year'

Iranian nuclear chief Ali Akbar Salehi reacts as he speaks to Reuters during an interview in Brussels, November 27, 2018
Iranian nuclear chief Ali Akbar Salehi reacts as he speaks to Reuters during an interview in Brussels, November 27, 2018

Iran’s most senior nuclear official expressed hope on December 6 that by the end of the year Europe will deliver on a proposed mechanism to continue trade with Iran and save the nuclear deal.

The United States has reimposed tough sanction on Iran, which have economically isolated the country. Iran has warned that if Europe does not take up measures to ensure trade ties, Tehran will have no reason to stay in the 2015 nuclear agreement, the Joint Comprehensive plan of action, or JCPOA.

Europe has proposed a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) as a clearinghouse that could be used to help match Iranian oil and gas exports against purchases of EU goods in an effective barter arrangement circumventing U.S. sanctions, which bar the use of the dollar for most trade with Iran.

Speaking to reporters on Thursday, the head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization, Ali Akbar Salehi said Europeans have pledged efforts to implement their proposed SPV mechanism for saving the JCPOA and maintaining trade with Iran.

Insisting that it is not easy to build consensus among 27 members of the European Union, Salehi cited unnamed sources as saying that development of the SPV is in its final stages.

“Based on the pledges that Europeans have made, we hope that Europe’s proposed package (SPV) would become operational by the end of the current year,” the state-run Mehr news agency (MNA) quoted Salehi as noting.

Meanwhile, Salehi asserted that although Washington has done its best to block SPV, EU has promised to finalize it by the end of December.

Furthermore, Salehi quoted the European Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy Miguel Arias Cañete as saying that EU members are set to carry out their future oil transactions with countries other than Iran, in euro.

Referring to the EU's annual oil deals worth over 300 billion euros ($341.5 billion), Salehi praised the decision as an effort that will end US dominance as a "lone ranger".

Up until now, the European Union has been paying 85% of oil purchases from other countries in dollars, he said, adding, “with the implementation of this mechanism, EU will pay all relevant costs in euro instead of the dollar, and the dollar will be ditched and isolated as a world monetary unit in the future.”

EU and the US have not yet responded to Salehi's latest comments.

Earlier at a joint press conference with the EU Commissioner Arias Cañete on November 26, in Brussels, Salehi had warned the European Union of "ominous" outcomes if it did not follow through with action to keep the economic benefits of the JCPOA alive.

"If words are not turned into deeds, then ... it is very ominous, the situation would be unpredictable," Salehi said without any elaboration.

In his latest comments, Salehi reiterated that Tehran's patience is limited, and warned, "Depriving Iran of the economic benefits of JCPOA will leave Tehran with no option other than resume enrich Uranium up to 20%.”

In response to a question on what decision will be adopted by the Iranian government in case EU's package of proposals does not meet Iran’s expectations, local news outlets cited Salehi as saying, "the EU's package will be compiled and formulated in consultations with our experts and fellow colleagues."

In the meantime, Iran's recent controversial missile tests have further complicated the EU's engagement with Tehran.

Iran has insisted that its missile tests have been defensive and will continue. The U.S. special envoy for Iran Brian Hook rejected the claim.

Hook said U.S. discussions with the Europeans about missile sanctions are gaining traction. Those talks center on slapping penalties on companies and people involved in Iran's missile program.

"It is a grave and escalating threat, and nations around the world, not just Europe, need to do everything they can to be targeting Iran's missile program," Hook said.

"Iran is on the wrong track, and our campaign of maximum economic pressure is designed to starve the regime of revenue it needs," he said.