Iran pressures Europe to speed up plans to save nuclear deal

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The other countries involved in the JCPOA, the so-called Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action Joint Commission, met Friday for the first time without the USA after Iran called for an urgent meeting of the body in Vienna.

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei set out conditions on Wednesday for Iran to stay in the deal: unless Europe guarantees Iran's oil sales will not suffer, Tehran would resume enrichment activities that are now prohibited.

Europeans have been working on a suite of proposals, including making it easier for small and medium-sized enterprises to invest in Iran, sheltering payments for oil and gas from USA sanctions and ordering European businesses to disregard the new US measures.

"We were very clear we can't give guarantees but we can create the necessary conditions for the Iranians to keep benefiting from the sanctions-lifting under the JCPOA (the nuclear deal) and to protect our interests and continue to develop legitimate business with Iran", the European Union official said.

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"We are still complying but we have not decided whether to yet to stay in the deal or not", the official told a small group of reporters on condition of anonymity.

The 2015 agreement between Iran and world powers lifted global sanctions on Tehran.

"I'm sorry to say that we haven't (seen) the Plan B yet".

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"We expect the (economic) package to be given to us by the end of May", the official noted, according to Reuters. "Khamenei is now doubling down on that charge", he said, referring to the deal's official name, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

European measures would need to ensure that oil exports did not halt, and that Iran would still have access to the SWIFT global bank payments messaging system, he said.

The supreme leader called on nations to "guarantee the total sales of Iran's oil", which means the continent will have to make up for any oil sales which have been cancelled because of U.S. sanctions.

"Pompeo was like taking a cold shower", said a European diplomat. He also said they must refrain from seeking negotiations over Iran's ballistic missile program or its regional policies. Some Western companies have already quit Iran or said they may have to leave because of the new USA sanctions.

The U.S. Treasury announced more sanctions on Thursday on several Iranian and Turkish companies and a number of aircraft in a move targeting four Iranian airlines.

Iran has so far benefited less from the accord than it had initially hoped, partly because of remaining US sanctions that have deterred major Western investors from doing business with Tehran.

The official said that if they were unhappy with how things panned out they would seek a ministerial meeting and then decide.

The official noted that the International Atomic Energy Agency on Thursday reported Iran had complied with limits on the level to which it can enrich uranium, its stock of enriched uranium and other items. Its chief, Yukiya Amano, briefed participants before Friday's meeting.

Khamenei said Iran reserves the right to expand its nuclear program beyond the limits of the accord unless European banks facilitate trade and Europeans provide assurances that they will buy Iranian oil if the USA attempts to disrupt crude sales.