EU diplomatic endeavors to bind Iran to the nuclear deal without imposing sanctions

UNITED STATES (OBSERVATORY NEWS)

European countries are trying to reach a complex agreement that would obligate both Tehran to return to honoring its nuclear pledges, and the United States not to impose new sanctions on Iran. U.S. sanctions could kill the 2015 Vienna agreement.

France, Britain and Germany have embarked on a dispute settlement mechanism provided for in the agreement, in case the pledges are violated.

– Tehran warns –

For its part, Iran warned Berlin, London and Paris of “the consequences of its decision.” “Of course, if the Europeans (…) try to misuse (this mechanism), they should also be prepared to bear the consequences, which we have already notified them,” the Iranian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

“We have no other option given the measures taken by Iran,” French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Laudrian, German Haikou Maas and British Dominique Rapp said in a joint statement.

On January 5, Tehran unveiled the “fifth and final stage” of its program to abandon its international nuclear obligations, in response to the U.S. withdrawal from the agreement in 2018 and the reimposition of harsh US sanctions that stifle Iran’s economy.

The European ministers said that “our three countries do not join the campaign aimed at exerting maximum pressure on Iran,” hinting that they do not want to follow the policy of sanctions pursued by the United States.

– The Europeans do not want to accelerate the transition –

The launch of the dispute settlement mechanism that Paris has threatened for several weeks may eventually lead to UN sanctions.

However, the Europeans do not want to “accelerate the transition” to sanctions but rather put pressure on Iran to save the 2015 agreement that limits Iran’s nuclear program, sources in Paris said.

For his part, European Union Foreign Minister Josip Borrell, in charge of overseeing the dispute settlement mechanism, called on all countries participating in the agreement between them, Iran, to preserve the text, saying that this matter “is more important today than ever before.”

– Risky bet –

The three European countries are doing the opposite of what US President Donald Trump called on to withdraw from the agreement and impose new sanctions on January 8 after a military escalation that began with the assassination of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani in a US raid in Baghdad on the third of the same month.

Otherwise, Paris, Berlin and London hope that the diplomatic track will take its course in the crisis with Iran, a risky bet that may also be hindered by new anti-regime demonstrations in Tehran.

“What they want to put on the table in exchange for Iran’s retreat (from its abandonment of its obligations) is unclear. This could further undermine the framework of the nuclear deal,” warned Eli Geranmei, an analyst at the European Council on Foreign Relations, in a tweet.

Soon the British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, made the remarks to disturb the atmosphere, saying he was ready to replace the 2015 nuclear deal. He told BBC that “President Trump is an excellent negotiator (…) to work together to replace (the nuclear agreement) with an agreement Trump.”

Borrell refused to comment on Johnson’s position and distanced himself from it, saying, “I received a letter from the three foreign ministers. This is my reference framework.”

The expert Alex Vatanka at the Middle East Institute in Washington considered that the Europeans do not have a “very heavy” political weight and, in addition, they are divided. Johnson and Trump are expected to be “close”.

The signals sent by Tehran in recent days have succeeded in encouraging the diplomatic movement, while the feeling raised by Soleimani’s assassination made everyone fear the worst.

The Islamic Republic chose a proportional response to the killing of Soleimani and fired for the first time missiles at two bases in Iraq hosting American soldiers, without causing casualties.

– Macron ready –

Tehran has admitted that the Iranian Revolutionary Guards mistakenly shot down a Ukrainian civilian aircraft a few hours after targeting the two military bases in Iraq, killing all of its 176 passengers.

French President Emmanuel Macron, who unsuccessfully attempted to organize a meeting between Trump and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani in 2019 to save the nuclear deal, is still ready to do the good offices.

A source in the French Foreign Ministry said, “We consider that this French initiative has not failed. There is no other alternative (…) There is no other leader capable at the present time to talk to everyone and say the same to everyone.”

But is President Trump, concerned about his re-election, still seeking to shake hands with his Iranian counterpart, even in front of only the cameras’ lenses?

The anger caused by the crash of the Ukrainian Boeing plane in Iran is likely to change the data.

“Trump may, given the events, be tempted to change the regime, to say ‘Actually I do not want to speak to Iran, I changed my mind, we’ll see what happens,'” Vatanka said.

Francois Heisbourg, a strategist at Paris-based Strategic Research Institute, said that merely re-imposing sanctions on Iran by the US president, which Tehran considers a red line, is “a very bad sign.”

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