Former French Foreign Ministry spokesman says EU has strong attachment to maintaining JCPOA

IAEA vulnerable to members with political motives: former French diplomat

June 26, 2020 - 1:28

TEHRAN – Iran has reacted strongly to the adoption of a resolution by the IAEA Board of Governors, saying it was drafted by the European trio (France, Germany and Britain) under a pressure from the United States and Israel.

 Marc Finaud, the former French Foreign Ministry spokesman, also does not reject outside pressure on the IAEA decisions by some members, telling the Tehran Times that the body is “vulnerable to attempts by some member states, with their own political agendas, to influence its judgment.”
  
However Finaud says the three European countries party to the 2015 nuclear deal and the entire EU have “a strong attachment to maintaining the JCPOA despite all the current challenges.” 

“This is because their national and regional security is very much dependent on full implementation of the JCPOA by all its parties,” says Finaud, a former senior resident fellow at the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR). 

Finaud also says the Trump administration intends to make Tehran lose its patience and take steps that finally lead to the collapse of the JCPOA, cautioning that Iran must not fall into the “trap” being set by the White House. 

“It is not surprising that the Trump administration is increasing its ‘maximum pressure’ on Iran, in the hope of pushing Iran to make mistakes and lead to the final collapse of the JCPOA. But it is in Iran’s interest not to fall into this trap,” notes Finaud who is now serving as a senior member of the Geneva Centre for Security Policy. 

Following is the full text of the interview:

Question: The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Board of Governors adopted a resolution against Iran on Friday. The resolution is based on alleged documents by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu regarding existence of sites previously not announced by Iran, including the ones in Turquzabad and Abadeh, whose case has been closed under the PMD. The same alleged documents formed the basis of the IAEA's previous report, which eventually led to the passage of an anti-Iran resolution. Iran, meanwhile, has worked extensively with the IAEA in accordance with the NPT and "Additional Protocol". What do you think is the IAEA's goal?

Answer: As everyone knows, the IAEA does not have any independent means of collecting intelligence and information about compliance with safeguards agreements apart from its inspection system. It is thus vulnerable to attempts by some member states, with their own political agendas, to influence its judgment. As the agency is mandated to verify the implementation of Iran’s safeguards agreement, Additional Protocol, and JCPOA, it has a legitimacy in inspecting all sites, including undeclared ones, suspected of hosting illicit material or activities. The JCPOA contains provisions on negotiated access to such sites, so it would be in everyone’s interest that such negotiations between the IAEA and Iran continue to avoid a minor incident to be blown out of proportion and escalate tensions.

Marc Finaud says Europeans’ “national and regional security is very much dependent on full implementation of the JCPOA by all its parties.”Q: The reaction of the IAEA director-general and European and Russian officials is that the IAEA does not currently intend to take Iran's case to the UN Security Council. What is your assessment?

A: The resolution adopted by a majority of members of the IAEA’s Board of Governors only asks Iran for the IAEA’s access to the two contentious sites. In order to refer Iran to the UN Security Council, the board would need to agree, based on strong evidence, which Iran is not complying with its obligations. This is not the case at this stage.

Q: The approval of the IAEA's anti-Iran resolution came days after UN chief Antonio Guterres reported that the source of the weapons used in the attacks on Saudi Arabia was Iranian. These efforts are made before the end of arms embargo on Iran in the fall, which the U.S. is seeking to extend. How do you assess the timing of these events?

A: It is not surprising that the Trump administration is increasing its ‘maximum pressure’ on Iran, in the hope of pushing Iran to make mistakes and lead to the final collapse of the JCPOA. But it is in Iran’s interest not to fall into this trap. Regarding the UN secretary-general’s report, it did mention that the missiles found in Saudi Arabia were of “Iranian origin” but it did not accuse Iran of having fired them. This shows that the issue of arms transfers and proliferation to and within the whole Middle East merits a collective effort and a multilateral approach, as proposed by some experts, and cannot rely on singling out Iran.
  
Q: The three European countries - France, Britain and Germany - have announced they will meet next week to support the JCPOA. It seems that the Europeans do not intend to send Iran's case to the Security Council until the outcome of the U.S. election in November, and maintaining the JCPOA is a priority for them. What is your opinion?

A: The three European countries (and the whole EU) have a strong attachment to maintaining the JCPOA despite all the current challenges. This is because their national and regional security is very much dependent on full implementation of the JCPOA by all its parties. A new UN Security Council resolution sanctioning only Iran for its admitted reduced implementation would not gather the support of all the permanent members, as illustrated by the negative vote of the IAEA resolution by Russia and China.

Q: Iran has stated that the IAEA resolution is politically motivated and non-technical and does not create legal obligations for Iran. Iran has also stated that implementation of the Additional Protocol is voluntary and temporary in accordance with the JCPOA. Iran appears to be suspending the voluntary implementation of the Additional Protocol. What is your assessment?

A: Iran has always applied the Additional Protocol unilaterally despite its non-ratification and is committed to ratifying it as part of its JCPOA obligations. Again it is in Iran’s interest to continuing applying this commitment to avoid giving anyone a pretext for considering that the JCPOA is dead. Minister Zarif even offered to ratify the Additional Protocol by anticipation in exchange for sanctions relief. This shows that there is some room for negotiation, perhaps with the help of European countries or neutral countries like Switzerland, Austria, or Finland.

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