With US out, those backing Iran nuclear deal meet in Vienna

Even before the United States moved to reimpose sanctions on Iran, Tehran complained that the surge in foreign investment and trade that was expected to come under the nuclear deal never materialized.

The head of the Revolutionary Guards said on Thursday their forces were ready to block the strait, which links the Gulf to the Arabian Sea.

"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.

Speaking on July 6, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said it was unlikely European powers would be able to put together an economic package for Iran that would salvage its nuclear deal before November and warned Tehran to stop threatening to break its commitments to the accord.

Washington has since told allies they must stop buying the OPEC producer's oil from November 4 or face financial consequences.

Iranian officials have said that key for them is to ensure measures that guarantee oil exports do not halt, and that Tehran still has access to the SWIFT global bank payments messaging system or an alternative. "We will make the enemy understand that either all can use the Strait of Hormuz or no one".

Late on Thursday, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani had described as "disappointing" a package presented to him earlier by European countries.

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In response, US Navy Central Command spokesperson Bill Urban said that US ships were ready to fulfill their mission to "provide and promote security and stability in the region".

Asked by Reuters what would be the US Naval Forces' reaction if Iran blocks the strait, he said: "Together, we stand ready to ensure the freedom of navigation and the free flow of commerce wherever worldwide law allows".

The EU, once Iran's biggest oil importer, has vowed to keep the 2015 nuclear deal alive without the United States by trying to keep oil and investment flowing.

However, he warned that if the European sides fail to properly fulfill their commitments, Iran would take its own measures to counter the U.S. withdrawal from the JCPOA. Foreign ministers from the five remaining signatories are meeting with Iranian officials in Vienna today to discuss proposals aimed at keeping the deal alive.

"The responsibility for the change of Iran's cooperation level with... falls on those who have created this new situation", he said, according to the Reuters news agency. The proposed package "only included some general promises like previous European Union statements", Rouhani said.

A senior US military leader said in 2012 the Guards have the ability to block the Strait of Hormuz "for a period of time" but the United States would take action to reopen it in such an event.

Iran has threatened to withdraw from the deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), if it does not receive enough economic guarantees from Europe.

(Copyright © 2015. All Rights Reserved.)
 
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