EU Fosters Iran Nuclear Links

In a likely sign of further policy divergence with the new US administration, the European Commission (EC) said April 18 it had signed the first ever project for nuclear safety co-operation with Iran, under their framework of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

It comes as European firms seek new upstream opportunities in the country. Early this year state National Iranian Oil Company published a list of 29 pre-qualified foreign upstream firms, as part of its aim to develop upstream oil and gas projects in Iran with western investment capital. Asian, European and Russian firms figured prominently -- including Eni, Shell, Total, CNPC and Gazprom -- but there were none from the US.

The €2.5mn nuclear safety project aims to enhance the capabilities of the Iranian Nuclear Regulatory Authority (INRA). It will do so by preparing a feasibility study for the Nuclear Safety Centre, foreseen in the joint plan of action, and will support INRA in developing a nuclear regulatory framework working toward the accession by Iran to several international nuclear conventions, including the Convention on Nuclear Safety, and reviewing the results of the stress test to take place in the existing Bushehr nuclear power plant in Iran.

The project is the first of a €5mn action approved by the European Union in 2016 under its Instrument for Nuclear Safety Cooperation. A second project for the stress test at the Bushehr nuclear power plant is going to be signed in the coming weeks, the EC added. Four months ago the EU also signed a framework for environmental cooperation with Iran

BP said recently that waivers to let Iranian partners remain in its Shah Deniz gas development in Azerbaijan had been extended by both the US and EU; however it does not appear to the fore among European firms seeking to invest in Iran.


Mark Smedley

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