Thank you. As you know, we had three main points on the agenda today.
I will start with Libya: I debriefed the [Foreign Affairs] Ministers on my visit to Tripoli on Saturday, where I inaugurated the European Union offices that will host both the European Union Delegation and the staff from EUBAM (EU Border Assistance Mission in Libya), our mission that is supporting Libyan authorities in their work on managing their borders - in particular, land borders - and I had the pleasure to meet some of our staff that is already there.
Last but not least, we had with the Ministers an update on the situation in DPRK [Democratic People's Republic of Korea]. I had myself the chance of discussing developments there with [US Secretary of State, Mike] Pompeo last week and also with the Foreign Ministers of Japan [Tarō Kōno] and South Korea [Kang Kyung-wha] during these days on the phone. We are united, as the European Union and Member States, to support both processes that are underway.
On one hand, the denuclearisation process that is led by the United States together with Pyongyang, where we would stress the need to have full denuclearisation, irreversible denuclearisation and verified denuclearisation before any sanction is lifted. So we will keep our economic pressure there. If I can give you an example, with Iran we lifted the nuclear-related sanctions not just at the end of the twelve years of negotiation on the agreement, but after the agreement was implemented on the Iranian side. So we are talking about a long way to go. Pressure will be maintained, but at the same time we will support with all possible means - political means, first of all - the political and diplomatic track. We believe there is no other way than diplomacy and dialogue to bring the peninsula to a denuclearisation.
And then, last but not least, let me inform you that today the [Foreign Affairs] Council has endorsed the update of the Blocking Statute's Annex proposed by the European Commission following the US withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal. This is a very welcome step from the [Foreign Affairs] Council, from my side. It gives us a consistent step forward in the set of measures that the European Union has put in place to make sure that the economic benefits deriving from the nuclear deal can continue to be in place for Iran.
Q. You debriefed the Council on the Joint Commission [of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the Iran nuclear deal] meeting in Vienna and you had a meeting with Mr [Mike] Pompeo [Secretary of State of the United States] last Friday. The US Secretary of State and his colleagues of the Treasury have answered France, Great Britain and Germany's letter, that the United States refuse any exemption even for the healthcare. Do you think that with this American tough line, the impact of the measures you are taking with Russia or China will be limited, whatever you do and whatever your good intention or diplomatic effort is, and in the end that Iran will be left to choose whether to accept to implement the agreement or not? Because in the end, it is as Mr Zarif said: it is in their interest to keep the nuclear deal.
I have seen the reply that was addressed also to me as we wrote the letter together. I have to say I have not seen anything new in the reply, apart from the already very well-known US policy, so no surprises not for good nor for bad. The set of measures we have been putting in place both at the European Union level, at Member States' level and at third countries' level and that we have discussed in Vienna last 6 July seemed to be, to me but also to all of us including, I believe, the Iranian counterparts, an interesting set of measures that can allow us to guarantee that Iran continues to benefit from the economic benefits coming from the implementation of the agreement as it has always been foreseen by the agreement itself. So, I do not see this reply as bringing anything new to the work we are doing.
Q. Back to the JCPOA: how confident are you, given the huge pressure coming from the United States? For all we know, President [of the United States Donald] Trump could be talking to President [of the Russian Federation Vladimir] Putin about it today. How confident are you that the measures you are introducing will succeed, given that pressure? Could you give us a sort of timeline in terms of what happens next. I believe the first sanctions from the United States are due to kick in towards the end of the first week of next month, and then more sanctions coming in November. If you could just give us some sort of an idea in terms of EU's measures etc.?
The timeline of the re-imposition of US sanctions' is 6 August and, if I am not wrong, 4 November, very much aligned with the midterm election calendar, it seems to me. On our side, we are working full speed; as I told you, already today we had a [Foreign Affairs] Council decision on the update of the Blocking Statute. If I am not wrong, less than two weeks ago, the European Parliament gave its consent as well. So, on our side, the steps are being taken. It is not about a future calendar, it is work ongoing already now.
In Vienna, ten days ago, we discussed together, also with Iran, Russia and China, the next steps and the ongoing work that is taking place currently at technical level, especially on the banking sector, the financial channels, the oil sale and the small and medium enterprises sector. How confident I am? I have to tell you it is a difficult exercise, because the weight of the US in the global economy and financial system is obviously relevant. But we are determined to preserve this deal.
We believe it is absolutely in our security interests; we believe it is in the security interest of the region and of the world. I cannot say if our efforts together with others' efforts are going to be enough, but what I can say is that we are doing all we can and we will continue to do all we can to try and prevent this deal from being dismantled, because we believe the consequences of this would be catastrophic for all.
So, I hope we will, together, in a joint effort managed to preserve this deal. I would not tell it is an easy job. It is a complicated exercise, but we are doing it with all our energy, and so far, I see that there is full determination not only from a united European Union, but also from China, the Russian Federation and other international partners that are keeping their economic engagements with Iran, in coordination with us.