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What's Next For The European Union And The Iran Deal

May 31, 2018
Originally published on May 31, 2018 1:13 pm
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RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Over the course of the next few months, U.S. sanctions will again target Iran. That follows President Trump's decision to pull the U.S. out of the Iran nuclear deal. More sanctions are set to kick in this August and again in November. But in an effort to salvage the deal, Tehran called on Europe to provide a list of economic guarantees by the end of May, which is today. NPR's Peter Kenyon reports from Istanbul.

PETER KENYON, BYLINE: Speaking to reporters last week in Vienna, a senior Iranian official said Tehran wants to see Europe's economic package right away but would give Europe a few more weeks to figure out how to keep the Iran nuclear deal alive without the U.S., which means defying American sanctions ordered up by President Trump. On one level, it's a heady political moment for Iran. Instead of being alone facing six world powers, as it was during the nuclear talks, now it's Iran and five world powers in favor of keeping the deal, and on the other side, the U.S. walking away.

But there are big economic stakes for companies that want to keep doing business with the U.S. Europe can enact blocking statutes designed to protect companies from U.S. sanctions. There have also been discussions of new lines of credit and other financial mechanisms. But companies will still have to weigh the cost of doing business in Iran if it means losing access to the much larger American market. Laura Rockwood, head of the Vienna Center for Disarmament and Non‑Proliferation, says the fate of the deal, known as the JCPOA, may rest on those business judgments.

LAURA ROCKWOOD: Regardless of the goodwill or the commitment of the European governments to the JCPOA, it will come down to individual companies' decisions as to whether they want to take that risk.

KENYON: Those decisions are being made. French oil company Total says without a sanctions waiver, they'll stop their Iranian projects. Iran's oil minister responded by giving Total 60 days to get the waiver or risk losing its share of a gas project to China. Meanwhile, Russian oil firm Lukoil says its Iran projects are on hold because of the sanctions.

Peter Kenyon, NPR News, Istanbul.

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