World powers back Iran oil exports despite USA sanctions threat

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The foreign ministers of Iran and five world powers meet to try to salvage the nuclear deal two months after President Donald Trump announced a unilateral USA withdrawal.

As tensions grow, the USA president is demanding that all countries end imports of Iranian oil by 4 November, as part of a series of 12 demands aimed at forcing Iran to behave "like a normal country".

In the joint statement, Iran's Mohammad Javad Zarif and other top diplomats reconfirmed their commitment to the deal and its "economic dividends" for Iran, which has suffered worsening financial turbulence since Trump abandoned the accord.

Rouhani told Merkel the USA exit from the JCPOA has caused some problems in economic areas, banking transactions and oil sector for the foreign companies which have made investment in Iran, making them reluctant about continuing their operations in the country.

This was extrapolated by USA officials as a threaten to shut down all regional oil shipping, when it could just as easily be interpreted as noting that Iran can basically export its oil under the guise of it coming from other regional countries, which is common behavior during sanctions.

They said they remained committed to the 2015 accord and to building up economic relations with Iran, including "the continuation of Iran's export of oil and gas" and other energy products.

"We are meeting here today to make sure the nuclear agreement with Iran has a future", German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said as he arrived for talks with counterparts from Iran and the other signatories Britain, China, France and Russian Federation.

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"We must put in place measures that allow Iran to trade as long as it meets its commitments", he told RTL radio in France, cautioning that the new steps may take until November when numerous sanctions take effect. Even though Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said that the United States actions "de-facto disrupted the agreement", thus giving Iran a right to withdraw from it as well, the Islamic Republic would not exercise this right, according to Lavrov.

Iran's navy chief said it would be "easy" to block the strait, while its vice president warned that not a "drop" of oil would pass through it if more sanctions were piled onto Iran.

The list begins with an introduction that says: "The Iranian regime brought suffering and death to the world and its people". He said the package lacks workable solution and is a set of general commitments like the previous European Union statements.

In another phone conversation with French President Emmanuel Macron late on Thursday, Rouhani described Paris' efforts to save the nuclear deal as "positive" but noted that "Europe's proposed package for keeping up cooperation in the JCPOA does not meet all our expectations".

Iran, which strongly denies ever seeking to build a nuclear bomb, has warned it could resume uranium enrichment for civilian purposes if the deal collapses. Rouhani called for a transparent operational program with a specific timetable to compensate for the United States' withdrawal from the agreement.

Since Trump's announcement, Iran's rial currency has fallen, prices have risen and the country has been hit by street protests and strikes.

In a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of a summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) in June, President Rouhani said Russia plays a key role in maintaining the nuclear deal after U.S. withdrawal.

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