The European Union approved the Iran nuclear deal with world powers on Monday, a first step towards lifting Europe’s economic sanctions against Tehran that the bloc hopes will send a signal that the U.S. Congress will follow.
In a message mainly aimed at sceptical voices in the U.S. Congress and strong resistance from Israel, EU foreign ministers meeting in Brussels stressed that there was no better option available.
“It is a balanced deal that means Iran won’t get an atomic bomb,” said French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius. “It is a major political deal.”
Ministers left the details of their endorsement until after a U.N. Security Council vote scheduled for 9 a.m. EDT (1300 GMT), but have formally committed to a gradual lifting of sanctions along with the United States and the United Nations.
Following the deal in Vienna, Iran has agreed to long-term curbs on a nuclear programme that the West suspected was aimed at creating an atomic bomb, but which Tehran says is peaceful.
The European Union will retain its ban on the supply of ballistic missile technology and sanctions related to human rights, EU diplomats said.
A senior Western official involved in the accord said a combination of limitations and verification was enough to ensure Iran would not obtain a nuclear bomb.
“Our ambition is to embed the Iranian civilian nuclear programme into international cooperation,” the official said.
The U.S. Congress received the Iran nuclear agreement on Sunday and will have 60 days from Monday to decide whether to approve or reject the deal.