President Trump withdrew U.S. participation in the so-called Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) on May 8. The deal was established by the U.N. Security Council and endorsed by the Obama administration as a means to shift Iran away from its nuclear weapons development program.
The five countries, along with senior representatives from the Iranian government, met Monday at the U.N. headquarters in New York.
While the countries said they “deeply regret” the United States’ exit from the Iran nuclear deal, they remain confident that Iran will “fully and effectively implement its nuclear-related commitments, as confirmed by 12 consecutive reports by the International Atomic Energy Agency, and reiterated the need to continue to do so.”
The countries also are eager to expand business ties with Iran, including offering assistance to modernize Iran’s Arak research reactor and convert the Fordow facility to a nuclear, physics and technology center.
The European ministers discussed proposals to develop banking channels, notably the initiative to establish a “special purpose vehicle,” to facilitate payments related to imports and exports of Iranian goods, including oil and other petroleum products.
“In practical terms this will mean that EU member states will set up a legal entity to facilitate legitimate financial transactions with Iran and this will allow European companies to continue trade with Iran, in accordance with European Union law, and could be opened to other partners in the world,” EU’s High Representative and Vice President Federica Mogherini said in remarks following the meeting.
The Trump administration, meanwhile, continues to put economic pressure on Iran by levying trade sanctions, which take particular aim at stifling Iran’s oil and gas sector.