ER Editor: We’re left a little dazed and confused by this declaration, coming as it does so soon after Merkel’s announcement on a weekend visit to Putin that preserving the JCPOA or nuclear deal with Iran was critical. See RT’s Merkel goes to Moscow: Agreement that Iran Nuclear Deal should be Preserved By All Means [VIDEO]. And we wouldn’t trust any of the EU3 leaders personally as far as we can throw them. Extensive reading, past and present, has confirmed that.
See also this PressTV report from December 23, 2019 titled Trigger mechanism, coup de grâce to JCPOA: Iran nuclear chief. According to this report, the EU has been talking about triggering this dispute mechanism, which would effectively scupper it, since November of last year. We are far more likely to get some straight talking about the EU from Iran’s nuclear chief than the EU3 leaders themselves:
“Europe wants the JCPOA to survive. The JCPOA is of security importance to them, but whether this demand is commensurate with their ability [to resist US pressures] is a different issue. The ability of Europe depends on its resistance against the United States, but unfortunately they have proven that the 28 [member] states [of the European Union] are less resistant and independent than a single [US] state like California,” Iran’s nuclear chief said.
Salehi added that if European countries seek to activate the trigger mechanism, it would be against their will, adding, “If the trigger mechanism is activated, nothing will be left of the JCPOA. This is a contradiction in the Europeans’ discourse.”
Expressing hope that Europe would amend this discourse, Salehi said, “We hope that this European discourse is rectified, because this discourse will put Europe on the same level with an untrustworthy America.”
“Europe’s prestige has been tarnished before the world’s public opinion and they must not do more damage to this prestige. All parties must try to help the JCPOA survive,” Iran’s nuclear chief said.
Note Boris Johnson’s reference to Trump below. EU vassalage just keeps rolling on.
EU3 triggers dispute mechanism with Iran in blow to nuclear deal
Britain, France, and Germany, collectively known as the EU3, have formally triggered a dispute settlement mechanism featured in a 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, a step that could lead to the restoration of UN sanctions against the Islamic Republic.
On Tuesday, the three European signatories to the Iran deal released a joint statement the mechanism was activated in response to what they claimed to be Iran’s repeated violations of the nuclear deal, officially called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
After the mechanism is implemented, Iran would be given 15 days to resolve the dispute with the threesome states. The process can ultimately lead to a “snapback” — which refers to the re-imposition of the UN Security Council’s sanctions that were lifted after the nuclear was reached in 2015.
The JCPOA lifted nuclear-related sanctions imposed on Iran by the UN and some other signatories of the deal, particularly the US.
The Islamic Republic, in return, voluntarily changed some aspects of its nuclear program. The agreement was later ratified in the form of Security Council 2231, which terminated previous UN resolutions against the Islamic Republic.
The United States was a partner to the accord until May 2018 when it unilaterally left the deal and re-imposed its sanctions. Washington took the move within the framework of a so-called “maximum pressure” policy against Iran that came into force under President Donald Trump.
Bowing to Washington’s pressure, the three remaining European signatories failed to protect Tehran’s business interests under the deal after the US’s withdrawal and started to toe Washington’s sanction line.
A year later, Iran began in May 2019 to gradually reduce its commitments under the JCPOA to both retaliate for Washington’s departure and prompt the European trio to respect their obligations towards Tehran.
Recently, Iran took a final step in reducing its commitments, and said it would no longer observe any operational limitations on its nuclear industry. The announcement came two days after US drone strikes assassinated senior Iranian commander Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani.
Tehran has, however, reminded that all its retaliatory steps fitted within Paragraph 36 of the JCPOA, and that its countermeasures are “reversible upon effective implementation of reciprocal obligations.”
The EU3, however, refuted “the argument that Iran is entitled to reduce compliance with the JCPOA.
The trio also claimed that they meant no harm by launching the mechanism, and that they were not falling into line with the US’s pressure campaign against Iran. (ER: We seriously doubt both claims.)
“[We are acting] in good faith with the overarching objective of preserving the JCPOA and in the sincere hope of finding a way forward to resolve the impasse through constructive diplomatic dialog, while preserving the agreement and remaining within its framework,” they said.
“Our three countries are not joining a campaign to implement maximum pressure against Iran. Our hope is to bring Iran back into full compliance with its commitments under the JCPOA,” they added.
The trio has already informed the European Union, which monitored the negotiations that led to the deal’s conclusion, about their decision.
EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell confirmed he has received a letter about the launch of the mechanism.
The EU now has to notify the other parties, namely Iran, Russia, and China, about the prospect.
Observers, however, says the European states’ adoption of the measure belies their repeated assertions that they value the JCPOA’s continued existence, and rules out the supposition that they choose to distance themselves from Washington’s hardball attitude.
Earlier on Tuesday, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson even echoed Trump’s branding of the agreement as “the worst deal ever” by saying he would be willing to work on a “Trump deal” to replace the JCPOA.
“If we are going to get rid of it, then we need a replacement,” Johnson said. “President Trump is a great dealmaker, by his own account. Let’s work together to replace the JCPOA and get the Trump deal instead,” he added.
Last December, the head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) had said that if the European signatories to the landmark accord activated the dispute mechanism to pressure Iran, it would mean the demise of the deal.
Tehran has also called on the European deal partners to start minding their obligations to the accord instead of walking in Washington’s footsteps by either threatening the country or trying to bring it under more pressure.
Iran warns against ‘destructive measures,’ promises firm response as EU trio starts nuclear deal ‘non-compliance’ investigation
Iran will firmly respond to anyone acting to damage the 2015 nuclear deal, but welcomes “good faith” measures to save it, the foreign ministry said as three EU signatories triggered a non-compliance investigation against Tehran.
“It is necessary to explain that the action taken by the three European countries is a passive and weak position,” Abbas Mousavi, spokesman for the foreign ministry, warned in a statement.
He spoke shortly after Germany, France and the UK initiated a special dispute resolution procedure under the 2015 deal citing Iran’s alleged non-compliance with the pact.
Now, the Islamic Republic will provide a “serious and firm” response to any “destructive initiative” taken by any signatory of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, Mousavi warned.
The European trio triggered the mechanism after Iran announced it would roll back its commitments under the deal following the killing of one of its top military commanders in a US drone strike earlier this month.
In a joint statement on Tuesday, the three countries asserted that Tehran had “no legal grounds” to stop complying with the terms of the agreement, and that they were left with “no choice” but to take action.
Iran has also accused European countries of violating the deal, however, with the country’s foreign ministry saying on Tuesday that European parties “failed to take tangible and serious action to meet their commitments” following the US’ abrupt departure from the agreement in 2018.
While Paris, Berlin and London implemented the investigation mechanism, they still made it clear that they are not joining Washington’s campaign of exerting “maximum pressure” on Tehran.
The 2015 nuclear deal, signed after years of intense negotiations, was thrown into disarray when US President Donald Trump quit the pact calling it the “worst deal ever” and reimposed previously lifted sanctions on the country.
The US departure caused tensions with European countries, which were intent on keeping the accord afloat in the face of increasing difficulties – and eventually led Tehran to scale back its commitment to the deal’s terms.
Under the terms, Iran had agreed to curtail its domestic nuclear program in exchange for the lifting of sanctions. Now, however, with the European trio triggering the compliance investigation, the worst case scenario for Iran could see the UN Security Council deciding to reinstate some sanctions.
France, Germany & UK blame Iran for violating nuclear deal ‘key restrictions’, trigger mechanism to investigate ‘non-commitment’
Iran rolled back its commitments under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) following the death of one of its most influential military leaders, Qassem Soleimani, in an American drone strike. Now, a fresh joint statement by Paris, Berlin and London insists it had “no legal grounds to cease implementing the provisions of the agreement.”
We have therefore been left with no choice, given Iran’s actions, but to register today our concerns that Iran is not meeting its commitments under the JCPoA and to refer this matter to the Joint Commission under the Dispute Resolution Mechanism.
Activating the mechanism – which is only possible if one or more signatories suspect a non-compliance with the deal – could eventually lead to the UN Security Council deciding whether to bring back sanctions against Iran.
Earlier in January, Iran announced that the level of uranium enrichment was to be determined by its own “technical needs.” However, both Tehran and the International Atomic Energy Agency confirmed that international inspectors are continuing their verification activities under the nuclear deal.
Following the decision, Iran’s UN envoy said in an interview that Tehran had meticulously followed the provisions of the plan even though it had received “almost nothing in return.” He added that the European parties to the JCPOA (from which Tehran expected to receive benefits) “didn’t act in accordance with the deal.”
Now, France, Germany and the UK made it clear that they “are not joining a campaign to implement maximum pressure against Iran,” disavowing potential suspicions of siding with Washington.
Our hope is to bring Iran back into full compliance with its commitments under the JCPOA.
Meanwhile, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said this action isn’t about re-imposing sanctions. Its aim is “to resolve issues relating to the implementation of the Iran nuclear agreement,” he was quoted by Reuters.
Iran has previously warned against triggering the dispute resolution mechanism, with Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi insisting that by scaling back nuclear commitments, Iran executed “its legal rights to react to America’s illegal and unilateral exit of the deal.”
The JCPOA, brokered by six major world powers, saw Iran concede to dramatically reduce uranium enrichment and allow international inspections in return for the lifting of sweeping economic sanctions.
It ended up in jeopardy in 2018, when US President Donald Trump withdrew from what he called the “worst deal ever” and reinstated crippling penalties targeting Iran’s oil industry, banking sector and international trade.
Throughout 2019, Tehran had been gradually activating new centrifuges and enriching uranium to levels banned under the framework, lamenting that European signatories failed to carry out their part of the pact. It was only after the killing of General Soleimani in early January that Tehran decided not to abide by any of those limitations.
Tuesday’s statement by the European states also claimed that they did their utmost “to deescalate tensions and to bring Iran and the US to the negotiating table for a comprehensive negotiated solution.” That effort will be resumed “as soon as conditions allow.”
The trio – otherwise known as E3 – wasn’t particularly successful in addressing Iran’s concerns. A special system they designed last year to facilitate trade with Iran was limited to food and medical supplies, whereas European firms have been in no rush to do business with the Islamic Republic.
Iran’s foreign minister voiced skepticism over the appeal, writing on Twitter: “For 20 months, the E3 – following UK appeasement policy – has bowed to US diktat. That hasn’t gotten it anywhere – and it never will.”
Although the 2015 deal now hangs in the balance, Tehran made reassurances earlier this month that it has no interest in obtaining nuclear weapons – a major concern that the milestone pact was designed to tackle. There is “no place for nuclear weapons in Iran’s defensive doctrine,” Iran’s ambassador to the UN stated. Tehran is a member of the 1968 Non-Proliferation Treaty, which aims for gradual nuclear disarmament and sets standards for arms control, the diplomat added.
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