European powers put Iran’s nuclear deal into dispute

Wednesday, January 15th, 2020 00:00 |
Iranian students attend a memorial for the victims of the Ukraine plane crash, at the University of Tehran, yesterday. Iran announced its first arrests over the downing of the plane. Photo/AFP

Paris, Tuesday

Three EU countries on Tuesday said they were launching a dispute mechanism against Iran under the 2015 nuclear deal, accusing Tehran of repeatedly violating the accord while insisting they remained committed to the agreement.

The move by Britain, France and Germany comes as tensions soar between the West and Iran following the killing of top commander Qasem Soleimani in a US strike and the admission by Tehran days later it had accidentally shot down a Ukrainian airliner.

Foreign ministers of the three European nations said Iran had been progressively scaling back its commitments under the deal and defying key restrictions on its nuclear programme since May last year.

“We have therefore been left with no choice, given Iran’s actions” to begin the dispute process, their statement said.

The 2015 nuclear deal—known as The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPoA)—has a provision that allows a party to claim significant non-compliance by another party before a joint commission. 

If the issue is not resolved at the joint commission, it then goes to an advisory board and eventually to the UN Security Council which could re-impose sanctions.

Iran had intensified sensitive activities to enrich uranium—which can be used to make a nuclear weapon—in response to the US pulling out of the deal in 2018.

Its latest step in January to forego the limit on the number of centrifuges used in uranium enrichment prompted Europe to trigger the mechanism.

“Iran’s actions are inconsistent with the provisions of the nuclear agreement and have increasingly severe and non-reversible proliferation implications,” the statement said.

But the three powers said they “once again express our commitment” to the deal and expressed “determination to work with all participants to preserve it”.

“Our hope is to bring Iran back into full compliance with its commitments under the JCPoA.”

The accord aimed to restrict Iran’s nuclear ambitions—which Western powers feared were aimed at developing weapons —in return for sanctions relief.

The three countries said they would not join “a campaign to implement maximum pressure against Iran” championed by US President Donald Trump.

Yet even as the EU powers made clear their commitment to the deal, British PM Boris Johnson said Tuesday he would be willing to work on a “Trump deal” to replace the JCPoA.

“If we are going to get rid of it, let’s replace it and let’s replace it with the Trump deal,” he said. “That’s what we need to see.

I think that would be a great way forward,” he added, noting that “from the American perspective it’s a flawed agreement.”

Meanwhile, Iran warned Britain, France and Germany on Tuesday about “the consequences” of their decision to launch a dispute mechanism against Tehran.  -AFP

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