Foreign ministers and senior diplomats from Britain, China, France, Germany and Russian Federation held talks on July 6 with their Iranian counterpart, Mohammad Javad Zarif, in Vienna for the first time since U.S. President Donald Trump announced he was abandoning the nuclear deal and moving to reimpose sanctions on Iran.
"If the process of the European foreign ministers' meeting in Vienna, which is aimed at encouraging Iran to cooperate, is promising, we will continue our cooperation", he said.
In late June, Iran's Press TV cited Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi as saying that the UK, Germany, France and the European Union had vowed to put forward a package of practical economic measures to offset the U.S. withdrawal, including those related to oil sales and transit.
"After the withdrawal of the United States, which we can't understand, we face a hard situation", he said. We want to keep our journalism open and accessible and be able to keep providing you with news and analyses from the frontlines of Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World.
The "threat" amounts to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani saying a USA attempt to block Iranian exports had "no meaning" so long as regional oil continues to be exported. Hassan Rouhani, who spoke with his French counterpart on the phone, also said the European Union's proposed package on continuation of cooperation under the nuclear deal does not cover all demands of Iran. Picture: AFP Photo / Hans Punz.
Since Trump's shock move in May, which dismayed all other signatories, Washington has warned other countries to end trade and investment in Iran and stop buying its oil from early November or face punitive measures. Several major firms - including France's Total and Peugeot, and Russia's Lukoil - have said they are preparing to leave.
"It would be meaningless that Iran cannot export its oil while others in the region can".
On arrival in Vienna, Germany's Foreign Minister Heiko Mass said he didn't expect a collapse of talks, but suggested more negotiations would be needed in the future.
It must activate a "blocking statute" - legislation banning EU companies from complying with U.S. sanctions on Iran - and allow the European Investment Bank (EIB) to do business in Iran, he said.
"The participants recognized that, in return for the implementation by Iran of its nuclear-related commitments, the lifting of sanctions, including the economic dividends arising from it, constitutes an essential part of the JCPOA", Mogherini told reporters after the meeting without taking questions.
Iranians have complained that the hoped-for rise in foreign investment and trade after the deal has not materialised.
Now, the threat of USA sanctions has increasingly darkened the outlook for Iran's economy, helping to stoke a plunge in the Iranian rial this year that has driven up prices and provoked street protests and strikes.
Rouhani, who signed the nuclear deal, has at times been attacked at home by ultra-conservatives, who have denounced his willingness to talk to the West and accused him of hurting the economy.
Rouhani warned Wednesday that Iran could reduce its cooperation with the United Nations' nuclear watchdog if the nuclear deal falls apart.
Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has vowed that Iran "will never tolerate both suffering from sanctions and nuclear restrictions".
Washington considers Iran a state sponsor of terrorism, with links to Lebanon's Hezbollah, Hamas in the Palestinian territories and networks in Iraq and Yemen, and demands it stop supporting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Unlike many other news organizations, we have not put up a paywall.
The prime minister accused Iran of "hypocrisy" in seeking European support, even as an Iranian diplomat was implicated in planning an alleged bomb plot against opposition exiles in Paris.
Tehran dismissed it is an orchestrated "false flag ploy", created to discredit Iran and overshadow Rouhani's trip to Europe.