Iran nuclear deal on brink of collapse
The UK, France, and Germany have officially triggered the dispute mechanism in the Iran nuclear deal while rejecting US President Donald Trump's "maximum pressure" sanctions on the country, Business Insider writes in the article The Iran nuclear deal is on the brink of collapse as Britain, France, and Germany trigger a dispute mechanism to directly confront Iran. The three countries negotiated the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action with Iran alongside the US, China, and Russia. The JCPOA was designed to stop Iran from producing its own nuclear weapons, and it set up a framework limiting the quantity and degree to which Iran was allowed to enrich uranium.
'We have therefore been left with no choice'
The three countries' decision comes in response to Iran's May announcement that it would stop meeting some of its commitments under the deal and full withdrawal from it earlier this month. European countries have attempted multiple times to salvage the deal, but Iran has refused to return to 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, as set out in paragraph 36 of the JCPoA," the three countries said in a statement Tuesday. Here's how the dispute mechanism works after it is triggered, according to the text of the nuclear deal:
1. The Joint Commission — made up of negotiators from the signatory countries — has 15 days of resolve the issue.
2. If this fails after 15 days, any participant can refer the issue to the countries' ministers of foreign affairs. The ministers then have another 15 days to discuss and find a resolution.
3. If the issue isn't resolved after those 30 days, it will be elevated to the JCPOA Advisory Board, which has five days to negotiate.
4. If it still isn't resolved, then the complaining signatory country can treat the issue as "grounds to cease performing its commitments under this JCPOA in whole or in part," and/or refer it to the UN Security Council. The US, Russia, China, Britain, and France sit on that council.
5. The UN Security Council would then have 30 days to find a resolution to continue with sanctions relief on Iran, which was enshrined in the JCPOA.
6. If no resolution is adopted, then all previous sanctions on Iran would be reimposed. This is also called a "snapback."
Europe vows no maximum pressure on Iran, apparently recognizing Trump's failed strategy. Iran's withdrawal from the deal largely came in response to Trump's decision to pull the US out of the nuclear deal in May 2018 and to impose punitive "maximum pressure" sanctions that have crippled the Iranian economy. Trump had hoped his maximum-pressure economic strategy would force Iran's leaders to comply with the US's demands about its behavior, but it has largely emboldened the government against the US.
Britain, France, and Germany appeared to rebuke the strategy by stressing that they wouldn't impose maximum pressure on Iran. They said on Tuesday, regarding the dispute-mechanism trigger: "We do this 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 dialogue, while preserving the agreement and remaining within its framework." They added: "In doing so, 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."
Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs expressed its concern with the decision of the JCPOA European signatories to proceed with the dispute mechanism set in paragraph 36 of the JCPOA, and their appeal to the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and coordinator of the Joint JCPOA Commission. “We don’t see any reason for such a move. We do not exclude that the ill-conceived actions of the EU Three will lead to a new escalation around the JCPOA and make it impossible to return the implementation of the nuclear deal in the originally agreed framework, which the European countries allegedly seek. The dispute mechanism was created for completely different purposes. The reasons for the difficulties in the implementation of the JCPOA are widely known and not related to Iran. When the mechanism was developed, no one could assume that the US would unilaterally withdraw from the JCPOA. Unfortunately, despite the serious efforts made by the parties involved, since Washington’s withdrawal from the nuclear deal in May 2018, the agreement has not yet been restored to its previous stability. Tehran’s decisions to suspend its voluntary commitments under the JCPOA are reciprocal and, above all, are a reaction to gross violations of the agreements and UN Security Council resolution 2231 by the United States, while the Iranian nuclear program remains under constant, unprecedented in scope and depth verification by the IAEA. Iran fully complies with the NPT, implements the Agreement with the IAEA on comprehensive safeguards, applies the Additional Protocol. The transparency of Iran’s nuclear activities is a key element of the entire nuclear deal.
We note the statements of the leaders of the EU Three about their rejection of the “maximum pressure” policy regarding Iran and their commitment to the JCPOA in spite of pressure from the United States. At the same time, despite the demonstration of readiness to work on creating reliable, effective ways to circumvent Washington’s obstacles, the above mentioned European countries are either not ready or cannot afford it. We also note serious gaps in the implementation of comprehensive agreements by the EU Three. If and when all these numerous and various problems are eliminated, Iran will have no reason to deviate from the initially agreed parameters of the JCPOA.
The restrictions envisaged by the JCPOA regarding the Iranian nuclear program, which Tehran agreed to balance interests and mutual obligations, were temporary from the very beginning. This is well known by the EU Three. These restrictions were needed in order to create the IAEA space to receive answers from Tehran, then they were removed in less than six months. Nevertheless, Iran was ready to comply with all the conditions of the nuclear deal with due reciprocity and a responsible attitude on the part of other partners.
Despite all the challenges, the JCPOA has not lost its relevance. We advocate its systematic comprehensive implementation in accordance with the parameters that were agreed in 2015 and enshrined in the UN Security Council resolution 2231. We urge the EU Three not to escalate the situation and abandon steps that call into question the prospects for the nuclear deal, " the statement reads.