The United Kingdom, France and Germany formally warned Iran on Tuesday that they will not be affected by the 2015 nuclear agreement.
The three countries initiated Tuesday the dispute procedure that is linked to the nuclear agreement with the international community, because according to them Iran no longer fulfills its obligations.
The move, according to Russia in a first reaction “a bad idea”, comes against will and thanks. The German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas later stated in a statement that the three countries could not “leave the growing Iranian violations of the nuclear agreement unanswered.” But in a statement, the three countries also stated that they still want the nuclear agreement to be maintained, and that they do not support the United States campaign against Iran. They left the agreement in 2018 and imposed severe economic sanctions on Iran. European companies, too, have since largely withdrawn from Iran.
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Iran has reduced compliance
In response to the US move, in recent months Iran has gradually reduced its compliance with the agreement, which limits its nuclear program in exchange for easing economic sanctions. The Iranian government argues that the Western powers have not kept their promise to relieve the sanctions.
After the US liquidation of top Iranian general Soleimani in Baghdad on 3 January, Iran finally announced that it no longer felt bound to the JCPOA, as the agreement is officially indicated. However, Tehran stated that the inspectors of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) are still welcome in Iran. Moreover, it still says that it is willing to fully comply if the sanctions are indeed lifted.
The three European states underlined that their move was not intended to punish Iran but rather to encourage it to respect the provisions of the agreement. In the background, there is fear that Iran will nevertheless try to develop its own nuclear weapons, although it has always sworn that its nuclear program is only intended for peaceful purposes.
The British Prime Minister Boris Johnson even argued Tuesday for a new, more comprehensive deal with Iran, a “Trump deal.” The American president, who says he is a good negotiator, should show what he can do in this area, according to Johnson.
The decision to open the dispute procedure does not yet seem to have major practical consequences. The dispute mechanism included in the nuclear agreement obliges the EU to inform the other parties, after which the disputes must be settled within the foreseeable future. High officials from the six remaining signatories (Great Britain, France, Germany, Russia, China and Iran) will soon meet to discuss the issue at the IAEA in Vienna. They can then pass the matter on to their ministers.
Nevertheless, this move is likely to further fuel tensions between Iran and the Western states. The Iranian regime suffered a storm of criticism from its own country and from abroad, when it only acknowledged on Saturday after a few days that a member of the Revolutionary Guard had accidentally shot a Ukrainian passenger plane out of the sky. On Monday evening, the third night in succession was demonstrated in Tehran in protest against the government. The police arrested thirty demonstrators.
The authorities announced on Tuesday morning that some people had been arrested for the downing of the Ukrainian Boeing. How many people were involved and who was not disclosed. Iranian President Hassan Rohani called in a speech to establish a special court for this case.
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January 15, 2020