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VIENNA, With the United States out, the remaining signatories to the Iran nuclear deal on Friday vowed here to preserve the agreement by securing Tehran's interests under it.

Foreign ministers of China, Russia, France, Britain, Germany and Iran met in Vienna on Friday to discuss how to save the landmark deal following the U.S. withdrawal.

A joint statement made by all parties involved in the meeting called for the survival of the nuclear deal, official known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

The statement sent a positive signal, while the meeting was shadowed by Iran's dissatisfaction with the European Union (EU)'s offer to secure its economic interests by anti-sanction measures.

"All participants reiterated the need to continue the full and effective implementation of all nuclear related commitments," the statement said.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Thursday that the proposal package offered by the EU does not secure Iran's interests in the nuclear deal, noting Tehran would stick to the deal only if Iran's interests are secured by the stake holders, as the United States is re-imposing tough sanctions on Iran.

Until last month, Tehran has been cooperating with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) under the deal, but the Iranian president said Iran would decide the level of cooperation with the UN nuclear watchdog.


Friday's statement lists key fields to support Iran to secure its economic interests, including "the maintenance and promotion of wider economic and sectoral relations with Iran; the preservation and maintenance of effective financial channels with Iran; the continuation of Iran's export of oil and gas condensate, petroleum products and petrochemicals; the continuation of sea (including shipping and insurance), land, air and rail transportation relations," manly to shield the country's backbone of the economic sector from U.S. sanctions.

"EU is in the process of updating the EU 'Blocking Statute' in order to protect EU Member States' companies and of updating the European Investment Bank's external lending mandate to cover Iran," the statement noted.

For the EU, the point is to secure Iran's international trade, especially the country's oil export by ensure the payment transactions for Iran open, however, no specific plan or timetable concerning the issue was mentioned in the statement.


The meeting on Friday confirmed that with the United States withdrawal from the deal, Britain would take over of the function of co-chair, together with China, of the Arak research reactor working group. Modernization of the Arak heavy water reactor is seen as a key issue in the Iran nuclear deal, as the reactor could potentially produce the nuclear fuel for a warhead.

But the challenges ahead are still tough as the EU has not yet found a perfect path to compensate Iran's most losses under the U.S. sanctions.

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas admitted that the situation is difficult, and the EU wants to make it clear to Iran that it has economic benefits from that deal, and it's looking for measures to benefit Tehran under the deal.

Maas told reporters that it's not possible to compensate all the losses of Iran because of the companies leaving Iran out of fear to lose the business with America.

Iran, however, showed its will to cooperate with the stake holders in the meeting, as Iran's Foreign Minster Javad Zarif said "all committed to ensure Iran's benefits: U.S. isolated," noting sides are moving the right direction on concrete steps for timely implementation of commitments.

In an interview with RTL Radio, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian argued that an adequate economic package would likely not be able to be finalized before November.

The foreign companies which do business with Tehran could face sanctions by the United States, making the investors reluctant to follow EU's suggestions to keep their business ties with Tehran.

The historic JCPOA was reached in July 2015 after months of tough multilateral diplomatic talks, aiming to protect the nuclear non-proliferation regime and meanwhile stabilize the Middle East situation.


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