Iran and Europe Made a 'Good Start' on New Nuclear Deal, but No Guarentees

'We are on the right track,' Iran's foreign minister says, while the EU top diplomat says can't provide any legal or economic guarantees

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif speaks during an event at the Institute of Strategic Studies in Islamabad on March 12, 2018.
Zarif is on an official visit to Pakistan
AFP PHOTO / AAMIR QURESHI

Iran and European powers have made a good start in talks over how to salvage the 2015 nuclear deal but much depends on what happens in the next few weeks, Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif said on Tuesday. 

"We are on the right track ... a lot will depend on what we can do in next few weeks," Zarif said after a 90-minute meeting with the foreign ministers of Britain, France and Germany and the European Union's foreign policy chief. 

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However, the European Union cannot provide legal and economic guarantees to Iran but is serious about seeking a way to keep investment flowing and will come forward with measures in the next few weeks, the EU's top diplomat said on Tuesday. 

After the meeting of the foreign ministers, EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said the group had tasked experts to protect European business in Iran. The group will meet again in Vienna next week at the level of deputy foreign ministers. 

"We are working on finding a practical solution," Mogherini told a news conference. "We are talking about solutions to keep the deal alive," she said, adding that measures would seek to allow Iran to keep exporting oil and for European banks to operate. 

Last Tuesday, U.S. President Donald Trump announced the withdrawal of the United States from the Iran nuclear deal, saying he will reinstate economic sanctions on the Islamic Republic, though many European countries urged him to stay.

"The deal lifted crippling economic sanctions on Iran, in exchange for very weak limits on the regime's nuclear activities," Trump said.

Trump said that the deal "should have never been made. It didn't bring peace, and it never will."