No breakthrough in nuclear talks as Iran demands more after US exit

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Three European nations along with Russian Federation and China met with Iran to offer economic benefits and assurances that would lessen the blow of sweeping USA sanctions, two months after President Donald Trump walked away from the landmark nuclear deal. Washington has since told countries they must stop buying the OPEC producer's oil from November 4 or face financial consequences.

But Washington has also warned European allies that they face possible penalties if they violate USA sanctions, which Washington says are aimed at reducing Iranian oil exports to "zero" - a level that would deprive Iran's economy of its principal source of revenue and economic growth.

"The participants recognized that, in return for the implementation by Iran of its nuclear-related commitments, the lifting of sanctions, including the economic dividends arising from it, constitutes an essential part of the JCPOA", Mogherini said.

Unlike at past meetings, Mogherini took no questions.

Iran's remaining partners in the 2015 nuclear deal vowed Friday to keep the energy exporter plugged into the global economy despite the United States withdrawal and sanctions threat.

Speaking on French radio ahead of arriving in the Austrian capital, France's foreign minister said world powers would struggle to put together an economic package immediately.

"We are trying to do it before sanctions are imposed at the start of August and then another set of sanctions in November". He stressed hat world powers would struggle to compensate Tehran for companies leaving Iran.

Besides, Commander of the IRGC Quds Force Qasem Soleimani on Tuesday lauded Rouhani for responding strongly to a USA plan aimed at blocking Iran's oil sales, saying "this is the Dr. Rouhani we used to know and the one he should be".

"We've made some progress, including on safeguarding some crude (oil) sales, but it's unlikely to meet Iranian expectations".

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 worldwide bank payments messaging system or an alternative.

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.

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.

The pillars of the European Union's strategy are: European Investment Bank lending, a special measure to shield EU companies from USA secondary sanctions, and a Commission proposal that EU governments make direct money transfers to Iran's central bank to avoid U.S. penalties.

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 Iranian leader said he hoped deficiencies Iran sees with the package can be addressed at the Vienna meeting, which comes two months after the United States left the nuclear accord.

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