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Khamenei sees no hope of Europe salvaging Iran nuclear deal

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei speaks at a meeting in Tehran, Iran, Monday, Aug. 13, 2018.

OFFICE OF THE IRANIAN SUPREME LEADER VIA AP

By LADANE NASSERI | Bloomberg | Published: August 29, 2018

Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei said Iran should stop pinning its hopes on Europe saving the international nuclear deal battered by the U.S. withdrawal, as he signaled his nation too may exit the agreement.

"There is no problem with continuing relations and negotiations with Europe, but hope should be abandoned regarding matters such as the nuclear deal," Khamenei said in a meeting with President Hassan Rouhani and members of his Cabinet, according to the leader's website. The accord "is not an end but a means and naturally, if we get to the conclusion that this tool doesn't allow us to stand by our national interests, we will set it aside."

The comments suggest patience is running out in Iran as the resumption of U.S. sanctions has extended a slump in the currency, forced major global companies to backtrack on investment plans for the Islamic Republic, and emboldened conservative critics of Rouhani.

Officials have in the past said that Iran would continue to stick to the curbs imposed on its nuclear program, and undergo a strict inspections regime, as long as it reaps commercial benefits from pact. But companies including Daimler and Total have instead been walking away, concerned they may fall foul of American penalties.

Prices and unemployment were climbing even before the withdrawal was officially announced, and the Iranian currency has lost about 80 percent against the dollar since April.

Dissatisfied with the government's attempts to stabilize the markets, lawmakers impeached two cabinet ministers this month, and on Tuesday summoned Rouhani to be grilled on his administration's performance. Iranian news agencies reported on Wednesday that the minister of education and the industry and mines minister would now face parliamentary scrutiny.

Efforts to shore up the nuclear pact are continuing. Germany and France this week said they're working on financing solutions to sidestep U.S. sanctions against countries such as Iran, including a possible role for central banks. The discussions, which also involve the U.K., are a signal that European powers are trying to get serious about demonstrating a greater level of independence from the U.S. as President Donald Trump pursues his "America First" agenda.

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