By staff and agency

EU chief diplomat: Preserving nuclear deal is now more important than ever

January 14, 2020 - 19:49

European Union’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said on Tuesday that preserving the 2015 nuclear deal, officially known as the JCPOA, is now more important than ever.

“I have received a letter from E3 FMs triggering the dispute resolution mechanism of #JCPOA with Iran. Will now oversee the process which requires intensive efforts& approach in good faith by all. Preserving the #nucleardeal is now more important than ever,” he tweeted.

France, Germany and the United Kingdom issued a joint statement on Tuesday, three parties to the JCPOA, announcing they have formally triggered the dispute mechanism in the nuclear deal.

According to Reuters, they said they still want the deal to succeed and were not joining a “maximum pressure” campaign against Iran by the United States, which abandoned the deal in May 2018 and reimposed sanctions.

Triggering the dispute mechanism could lead eventually to the reimposition of UN sanctions that were lifted under the agreement. 

U.S. President Donald Trump quit the nuclear deal in May 2018 and introduced the harshest ever sanctions in history on Iran as part of his administration’s “maximum pressure” campaign against Iran.

Under the JCPOA, Iran promised to put limits on its nuclear activities in exchange for the termination of economic and financial sanctions.

Britain, France, Germany, Russia, China, and Iran have been trying to salvage the pact. However, Europeans’ efforts to protect trade with Iran against the U.S. sanctions have yielded nothing concrete so far.

On May 8, exactly one year after the U.S. abandoned the deal, Tehran announced that its “strategic patience” is over and began to partially reduce its commitments to the agreement at bi-monthly intervals.

Iran’s moves are based on paragraph 36 of the JCPOA which “allows one side, under certain circumstances, to stop complying with the deal if the other side is out of compliance.”

In the first stage, Iran announced that it will not limit its stockpile of the nuclear fuel to 300 kilograms allowed under the deal. On that date (May 8) Iran’s Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) said if the remaining parties to the JCPOA, especially Europeans, devise a mechanism to protect Iran from the sanctions’ effect in the two-month deadline it will reverse its decision.

But since European parties missed the deadline, on July 7 Iran announced that it has started enriching uranium to a higher purity than the 3.67%, thereby starting the second step.

Again, as Europe missed the second 60-day deadline, Iran moved to take the third step, removing a ban on nuclear research and development (R&D).

In the fourth step, which started on November 6, Iran began injecting uranium gas into 1,044 centrifuges at the Fordow nuclear site. It was done at the presence of inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

In its fifth and final step on January 5, Iran suspended all limits under the JCPOA.


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