Iran Envoy to the UK: Ease oil sales or see end of nuclear deal

15 May, 2019
Source: The Guardian

The Iranian ambassador to the UK has warned Europe it has 60 days to ease Iranian oil sales or else see the end of the nuclear deal as tensions rise with the US.

Hamid Baeidinejad claimed it was obvious for all to see that the US national security adviser, John Bolton, was bent on a military confrontation with Iran, and the only question was whether Washington would be caught in his trap.

Speaking five days after Iran announced steps to withdraw from the nuclear deal negotiated in 2015, which the US earlier pulled out of, the ambassador also insisted that Iran was not involved in the sabotage of two Saudi oil tankers in the Oman Gulf at the weekend.

“We do not know who attacked the tankers. It’s very serious for us. For hours after the incident, the United Arab Emirates declined to give any comment and then, all of a sudden, in a concerted effort, statement after statement was made that Iran or its so-called proxies were likely to be engaged. This is very dangerous and suspicious,” he said.

Following the US announcement it would send the fleet led by the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln to the Gulf, Baeidinejad said: “We were predicting there could be some incidents, accidents and some probabilities … a pretext to start a military escalation.”

He said “sections in Washington led by John Bolton” wanted “to drag America into a military confrontation with Iran”, but Iran would be prepared.

“Iran does not want to have a war, and is not predicting one, but we are very prepared for any eventuality and people should not test the seriousness of the Iranian people to react very fiercely against provocations in the region,” he said.

“All the Iranian people are behind the government and leadership, even groups and circles previously opposed to the government. We have a very solid domestic position. Any miscalculation by the other side would be very damaging.”

 “If in 60 days there are no solutions, there certainly will be consequences from our side and it will be very serious. We are determined to take action to salvage the nuclear deal or else there is no future for the deal.”

He made no bones that the steps announced by his government reflected internal political pressure to stand up to the US.

“Even in Iran there are many institutions and politicians that believe we have been late in responding to the situation,” he said. “We have tried to be patient over a year, but we cannot continue to allow the JCPOA to be in a total collapse so something needed to be done. If the other side believe that Iran can just continue to be patient, we have passed that stage.

“Our government is expected by its people to respond to the negative developments that have occurred. It is time we should make some decision – not to undermine the nuclear deal but give the necessary message to the international community that the JCPOA is under immediate threat. The fundamental achievement of multilateral diplomacy is in danger of collapse.”

Although the ambassador said the EU was required by Iran within 60 days to take concrete steps, or else see more unambiguous action by Iran to depart the JCPOA, he was sometimes elusive about the precise steps Europe must take.

He referred repeatedly to EU states doing more to help with the export of Iranian oil and the transfer to Iran of the revenue from the sales. But a mechanism – Instex - set up by the EU to circumvent US secondary sanctions is designed for humanitarian aid, not oil trading.

Baeidinejad said: “The three European countries have not been able to implement their part of the agreement due to the sanctions by the US – if they would tell us now they don’t care about the US that they will import our oil and transfer the necessary money and operationalise the Instex that would be the solution we are expecting.”

“There are actual buyers outside ready to buy Iranian oil but there are threats, intimidations and sanctions against companies that want to work with Iran. We need definite commitments and answers.

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