EU reaffirms support for JCPOA

January 12, 2021 - 21:48

TEHRAN – The High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Josep Borrell, issued a declaration on Monday on behalf of the EU’s position regarding the Iran nuclear deal expressing support for the agreement.

“The EU reiterates its strong commitment to and continued support for the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. The JCPOA is a key element of the global nuclear non-proliferation architecture and an achievement of multilateral diplomacy, endorsed unanimously by the UN Security Council through resolution 2231,” the chief EU diplomat said.

Borrell also expressed concern over steps taken by Iran over the last two years, especially its recent move to raise the level of uranium enrichment to up to 20%.

Iran has gradually reduced its nuclear commitments in response to the U.S. withdrawal from the JCPOA on May 8, 2018, and the European inaction in countering the U.S. sanctions on Iran thereafter. Iran increased the stockpile of its low-enriched uranium, resumed enrichment activities in the Fordow fuel enrichment plant, and most recently raised the level of uranium enrichment to 20%.

Iran started to reduce its commitments exactly one year after the U.S. left the JCPOA. At the time Iran said its “strategic patience” is over. However, Iran insisted if the remaining members of the nuclear agreement, especially Europeans, shield Iran from U.S. sanctions it will immediately reverse its decision. But it did not happen.

Borrell claimed that all these activities are inconsistent with Iran's JCPOA commitments and a matter of concern.

“We deeply regret the worrying steps taken by Iran over the last two years and recall that the EU has repeatedly called on Iran to reverse all actions that are inconsistent with Iran's JCPOA commitments. The initiation of uranium enrichment to up to 20% by Iran at the underground Fordow Fuel Enrichment Plant, which was confirmed by the IAEA on 4 January, is a very serious development and a matter of deep concern. Iran's action is also inconsistent with the JCPOA's clear provisions on Fordow and has potentially severe proliferation implications,” he said.

Borrell added, “At this critical juncture, Iran's action also risks undermining efforts aimed at building upon the existing diplomatic process. We urge Iran to refrain from further escalation and reverse this course of action without delay. Continued full and timely cooperation with the IAEA remains critical.”

The top EU diplomat pointed out that “The EU has upheld its JCPOA commitments, including regarding sanctions lifting as foreseen in the Agreement. Despite the severe challenges to the JCPOA, the EU has continued to work hard to preserve it.”
But Borrell didn’t say what the EU has done to preserve the JCPOA other than issuing political statements and declarations.

Referring to the recent JCPOA ministerial meeting, Borrell voiced “support for the ongoing diplomatic efforts in the framework of the Joint Commission, with the EU High Representative as its coordinator, to ensure full JCPOA implementation.”

“In this context, we also express our support to intensive diplomacy with the goal of facilitating a US return to the JCPOA and Iran's return to full JCPOA implementation,” he continued.

At the end of his declaration, Borrell expressed hope to work with the incoming U.S. administration, which according to Borrell, has issued “positive statements on the JCPOA.”

Borrell’s declaration came at a time when Iran is criticizing the Europeans for their failure to implement their commitments under the Iran nuclear deal. On the same day that Borrell issued his declaration, the spokesman for Iran Foreign Ministry, Saeed Khatibzadeh, leveled criticism at the Europeans for their track record on the JCPOA.

Iran has a “big problem” with the Europeans, said Khatibzadeh, adding that they use palliatives to kill the pain instead of treating the disease itself.

“We have a big problem with some European countries which is that some European countries, as signatories and participants to the JCPOA, had definite obligations. Unfortunately, not only did they fail to fulfill their obligations, but they were America’s partners in violating the JCPOA,” the spokesman lamented.

According to Khatibzadeh, the Europeans are using palliatives to treat the fever of disease, not the disease itself. “Treating the disease is possible by fully implementing commitments. The day Europe and America return to the implementation of their commitment, we will also return to the full implementation of our commitments. Effective implementation in exchange for effective implementation.”  

Khatibzadeh was responding to a recent statement by the three European signatories to the JCPOA –France, Germany and the UK (E3)- in which they expressed concern over Iran’s decision to resume 20% uranium enrichment at Fordow.

“We are deeply concerned by the commencement by Iran on the 4th of January of uranium enrichment up to 20% at the underground facility of the Fordow Fuel Enrichment Plant. This action, which has no credible civil justification and carries very significant proliferation-related risks, is in clear violation of Iran’s commitments under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) and further hollows out the Agreement,” the E3 said in a statement.

Khatibzadeh hit back at the E3 statement, saying that Iran's decision was consistent with the terms of the nuclear deal.

“These countries are better aware that what is being done today by Iran to reduce its obligations is in accordance with the JCPOA and within the framework of the JCPOA and under Articles 26 and 36 of the JCPOA. Iran's actions are intended to maintain the JCPOA,” Khtibzadeh said, noting, “Most importantly, these three European countries know better what is happening in Iran is a sign of a disease and a problem, not the root of a problem. What Iran is doing is a response to the root of the big problem, which is the repetitive and complete violation of the JCPOA in terms of lifting sanctions by the United States and Europe.”

“If the European countries want to reverse Iran's actions, which are all reversible and can be easily and quickly reversed, it is better for these countries to return to the fulfillment of their obligations and cure the root cause of the violation of the agreement by the Europeans,” he added.

Iran has called on the E3 to honor their JCPOA commitments on many occasions. But the Europeans did nothing to implement their obligations under the deal and kept accusing Iran of violating the terms of the deal instead.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has said if all sides live up to their commitments, Tehran will immediately reverse its decision in enriching uranium to 20 percent.

“We resumed 20% enrichment, as legislated by our Parliament. IAEA has been duly notified. Our remedial action conforms fully with Para 36 of JCPOA, after years of non-compliance by several other JCPOA participants. Our measures are fully reversible upon FULL compliance by ALL,” Zarif said in a tweet on January 4.