Skip to main content

Iran says it's waiting for ‘tangible’ results of talks with Europe

Iranian officials have warned that, unless Europe can facilitate trade, they will continue to reduce their commitments under the nuclear deal.
Iran's top nuclear negotiator Abbas Araqchi and EEAS Secretary General Helga Schmid attend a meeting of the JCPOA Joint Commission in Vienna, Austria July 28, 2019.  REUTERS/Kirsti Knolle - RC13C68A4E90

Iran’s Foreign Ministry Spokesman Abbas Mousavi said his country is ready to reduce its nuclear commitments if Europe is unable to secure the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the nuclear deal signed by Iran and the six world powers in 2015.

Mousavi’s comments come one day after Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China met in Vienna to discuss the fate of the JCPOA, from which the United States withdrew in May 2018. Mousavi said the July 28 JCPOA meeting was held at the request of both Europe and Iran and that Europe had expressed their protest against Iran for reducing their nuclear commitments under the JCPOA. So far, Iran has increased its enrichment beyond 3.67% and increased its stockpile of low-enriched uranium to beyond the agreed-upon 300 kilograms. Iran has stressed that these steps can be fully reversed once Europe fulfills its end of the JCPOA.

At the Vienna meeting, Iran complained about European arrests and extradition of Iranians to the United States. The Donald Trump administration reimposed sanctions on Iran after its withdrawal from the JCPOA. Mousavi said the individuals arrested by Europe were apprehended because of “America’s unilateral oppressive sanctions.”

Europe has already introduced INSTEX (Instrument in Support of Trade Exchanges) to facilitate trade between Iran and Europe and bypass US sanctions. However, the volume of trade on INSTEX remains too small to satisfy Iran’s need to safely sell its oil. Mousavi said the topic of INSTEX was raised at the latest meeting; however, “it was not significant.” He also referred to INSTEX as “the beginning of the opposing side implementing its commitments.” Mousavi added, “We are still awaiting actionable and tangible steps from Europe to implement the JCPOA."

Iran plans to roll out its reduced commitments within a 60-day period. Following the moves to breach the enrichment and stockpile limits, the third step will likely not take place until early September. However, Iranian officials continue to stress that the third step, which will be taken immediately after meeting with European officials, suggests the chances of it happening are high.

While the meeting in Vienna appeared to move forward without any new conflicts over the JCPOA, Iran and Britain are currently locked in a dispute over seized oil tankers. An Iranian oil tanker that was reportedly headed to Syria was seized by the UK off of the coast of Gibraltar, and a British tanker in the Persian Gulf was seized by Iran. Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab rejected the call to exchange tankers. “This is not about some kind of barter,” Raab said, adding, “This is about international law and the rules of the international legal system being upheld, and that is what we will insist on.” The UK claims Iran violated EU sanctions on Syria. Iran claims the British ship committed violations while traveling through the Strait of Hormuz.

The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), which seized the British tanker, released audio of its communications with a British warship after the seizure of the tanker. The IRGC sailor on the communications can be heard saying, “This is Sepah navy patrol. Do not put your life in danger.” Another IRGC sailor can be heard saying “Your tanker British heritage is under my control. You are ordered to not interfere in my operation.” 

Join hundreds of Middle East professionals with Al-Monitor PRO.

Business and policy professionals use PRO to monitor the regional economy and improve their reports, memos and presentations. Try it for free and cancel anytime.

Already a Member? Sign in


The Middle East's Best Newsletters

Join over 50,000 readers who access our journalists dedicated newsletters, covering the top political, security, business and tech issues across the region each week.
Delivered straight to your inbox.


What's included:
Our Expertise

Free newsletters available:

  • The Takeaway & Week in Review
  • Middle East Minute (AM)
  • Daily Briefing (PM)
  • Business & Tech Briefing
  • Security Briefing
  • Gulf Briefing
  • Israel Briefing
  • Palestine Briefing
  • Turkey Briefing
  • Iraq Briefing

Premium Membership

Join the Middle East's most notable experts for premium memos, trend reports, live video Q&A, and intimate in-person events, each detailing exclusive insights on business and geopolitical trends shaping the region.

$25.00 / month
billed annually

Become Member Start with 1-week free trial
What's included:
Our Expertise AI-driven

Memos - premium analytical writing: actionable insights on markets and geopolitics.

Live Video Q&A - Hear from our top journalists and regional experts.

Special Events - Intimate in-person events with business & political VIPs.

Trend Reports - Deep dive analysis on market updates.

All premium Industry Newsletters - Monitor the Middle East's most important industries. Prioritize your target industries for weekly review:

  • Capital Markets & Private Equity
  • Venture Capital & Startups
  • Green Energy
  • Supply Chain
  • Sustainable Development
  • Leading Edge Technology
  • Oil & Gas
  • Real Estate & Construction
  • Banking

We also offer team plans. Please send an email to and we'll onboard your team.

Already a Member? Sign in

The Middle East in your inbox Insights in your inbox.

Deepen your knowledge of the Middle East

Trend Reports

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (4th R) attends a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping (3rd L) at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on February 22, 2019. (Photo by HOW HWEE YOUNG / POOL / AFP) (Photo credit should read HOW HWEE YOUNG/AFP via Getty Images)

From roads to routers: The future of China-Middle East connectivity

A general view shows the solar plant in Uyayna, north of Riyadh, on March 29, 2018. - On March 27, Saudi announced a deal with Japan's SoftBank to build the world's biggest solar plant. (Photo by FAYEZ NURELDINE / AFP) (Photo credit should read FAYEZ NURELDINE/AFP via Getty Images)

Regulations on Middle East renewable energy industry starting to take shape

Start your PRO membership today.

Join the Middle East's top business and policy professionals to access exclusive PRO insights today.

Join Al-Monitor PRO Start with 1-week free trial