Iran sets May 31 deadline in scramble to salvage nuclear deal

Posted May 26, 2018

Also in exchange for Iran continuing to honor the deal, Khamenei said the European nations should guarantee that they will not only continue to buy Iranian oil but will try to block USA plans to curb Iranian oil sales through renewed sanctions.

Pompeo also outlined 12 U.S. tough demands for Iran, including halting its uranium enrichment and closing its heavy water reactor, for any "new deal" with Tehran. European banks that continue to deal with Iran could be blacklisted and frozen out of the American financial system.

As in previous reports, the IAEA confirmed that the number of centrifuges to enrich uranium at Iran's Natanz plant had been kept below the agreed level of 5,060, while its total stockpile of low-enriched uranium "has not exceeded 300 kilogrammes (660 pounds)".

"We are still complying but we have not decided whether to yet to stay in the deal or not", the official told a small group of reporters on condition of anonymity.

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He said that in theory the deal could survive without the U.S., but acknowledged "in practice I'm not sure".

"Our position is very clear: Make the JCPOA (Iran deal) a successful story, then come to us and ask for dialogue or discussion or negotiation on other subjects", the Iranian official said. While the European Union is taking measures to block the USA sanctions, it is ultimately up to the Continent's banks and companies to decide if they can stomach the risk of running afoul US sanctions.

Iran expected this package by the end of May, he said, adding the country had only "a few weeks" before having to decide whether to keep participating in the deal or not. "Plan B has just started to be figured out".

The Iranian diplomat added, the Islamic Republic needs a guarantee it will be able to continue to sell its oil on world markets, have global banking access and broad trade protections. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo threatened Iran on Monday with "the strongest sanctions in history" if it did not change its behavior in the Middle East.

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In his meeting with Pompeo, Maas said he stressed the "great solidarity" of the deal's European signatories and the European Union in their collective decision to continue following the agreement.

Speaking before the meeting, a senior Iranian official rejected any attempt to link the deal, known as Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) to other such issues, saying it would mean "we lose JCPOA and we (would) make the other issues even more complicated to resolve", adding that it was pointless for the Europeans to try to "appease" Trump.

The official said time was running out and that if Iran was not satisfied with European efforts, Tehran would seek a ministerial meeting before making its decision.

Iran has so far benefited less from the accord than it had initially hoped, partly because of remaining USA sanctions that have deterred major Western investors from doing business with Tehran.

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Trump denounced the accord, completed under his predecessor Barack Obama, because it did not cover Iran's ballistic missile program or its role in Middle East wars, or address the issue of what happens after the deal begins to expire in 2025. Some Western companies have already quit Iran or said they may have to leave because of the new U.S. sanctions.