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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - European nations have suggested the mechanism meant to relieve the effect of US sanctions on Iran could help the Islamic republic as grapples with a major coronavirus outbreak.
Germany, France and Britain met with the other signatories of Iran’s nuclear deal in Vienna on Wednesday. An official communique noted that the meeting took place against the backdrop of a developing coronavirus crisis for Iran, as well as China.
In the same statement, the parties noted that the financial Instex mechanism, designed to funnel humanitarian and medical necessities to Iran around the sanctions barrier, was close to processing its first transactions.
“Participants welcomed positive developments in the processing of [the] first transactions by Instex,” the joint commission said in a statement following the meeting.
The talks, which were chaired by the EU’s top diplomat Josep Borrell Fontelles, placed the discussions in the context of the health crisis confronting Iran as the coronavirus continues to spread.
In Iran, the nation in the Middle East hit hardest by the coronavirus, there have been 139 recorded cases of the disease and 19 deaths.
On Wednesday, Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister Seyed Abbas Araghchi tweeted to say that the virus had hit the country harder than US sanctions.
“The American economic sanctions were not — and will not [be]— as effective as a Covid-19 virus,” he wrote.
The European Leadership Network had suggested that Instex could allow Iran to bypass US sanctions and elevate its reliance on WHO support.
“Instex can be used to ensure Iran remains able to make payments to European suppliers and receive speedy and reliable deliveries of the equipment necessary to deal with the coronavirus outbreak,” the paper from the London-based think tank read.
European nations along with China and Russia have redoubled their efforts to resuscitate the faltering Iran nuclear deal at a meeting in Vienna.
The signatories to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) met on Wednesday, primarily to discuss their efforts to resuscitate the faltering Iran nuclear deal.
The 2015 deal has been on life support since 2018 when the United States unilaterally withdrew from the nuclear accord. Relations between Tehran and Washington have steadily deteriorated in the intervening months as a result of the US “maximum pressure” policy on Iran and the imposition of sanctions.
Relations reached a nadir at the start of this year following the US assassination of Iranian General Qassem Suleimani in Iraq. Europe has looked to act as an intermediary between the two nations.
However, in response to Iran’s regular flouting of the limits of the nuclear deal, Germany, France and Britain triggered the JCPOA’s dispute resolution mechanism in January.
The move, which could lead to new UN sanctions on Iran, had been aimed at bringing the Islamic republic back within the confines of the deal after Iran suspended all limits on production of enriched uranium. The material can be used to make reactor fuel, but also nuclear weapons.
Senior Research Fellow at the Netherlands Institute of International Relations Erwin van Vaeen, told The National that both Iran and the European nations, known as the E3, were sticking with the JCPOA, due to a lack of better options.
“There is nothing better on offer from the European perspective. They don't like the US policy line because it may lead to regional conflict and it also puts Iran in a place where nothing will move because there is just too much pressure,” he said.
Updated: February 26, 2020 09:18 PM
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