Europeans making new move to save the nuclear deal with Iran


The European countries parties to the nuclear agreement have begun a complex diplomatic process to compel Tehran to return to honoring its nuclear pledges without imposing new sanctions on it that may kill the 2015 Vienna agreement.

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

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 must 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 Rap-Guy 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 US 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 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, who is charged with overseeing the dispute settlement mechanism, called on all countries participating in the agreement between them, Iran, to preserve the text, considering that this matter “is more important today than ever before.”

Johnson Trump hub? –

The three European countries are reversing the actions of US President Donald Trump, who called on them 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 abandoning its obligations) is not clear. This could further undermine the framework of the nuclear agreement,” warned Eli Geranmei, an analyst at the European Council on Foreign Relations, in a tweet.

Soon the British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, stated that he was souring the air and said 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 the Trump agreement “.

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 frame of reference.”

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’s still 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 tried to organize a meeting between Trump and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani in 2019 to save the nuclear deal, remains ready to do 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 a Ukrainian Boeing plane in Iran is likely to change the data.

“Trump may be tempted, given the events, to change the regime, to say + Actually I don’t want to talk to Iran, I changed my mind, we’ll see what happens +,” Vatanka said.

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


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