The Canadian government, represented by Foreign Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne, has recently come out in support of a decision by the European three (Germany, France, and the UK) to trigger a dispute resolution mechanism in the Iran nuclear deal.
The foreign ministries of Iran and Russia have criticised the move by the European signatories to the nuclear deal. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov noted that the Eurotroika’s decision to use this mechanism under the JCPOA, which permits discussions about the agreement's implementation at the UNSC, "causes serious concern for the Russian side".
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif stated that the decision by several European states to launch the dispute resolution mechanism under the nuclear deal with Iran "is devoid of any legal basis and is a strategic mistake".
As another signatory to the nuclear agreement between the P5+1 and Iran, China expressed regret over the Eurotroika’s decision. According to Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang "this step won’t help de-escalate tensions".
Adlan Margoev, an analyst from the Institute for International Studies at Moscow State Institute of International Relations and editor of the newsletter Yaderny Kontrol, noted that the Eurotroika had resorted to such a step because of the actions of other participants, namely, the United States:
"The Europeans ended up in a hopeless situation. On the one hand, there is the US withdrawal from the nuclear deal, which prevents them from maintaining economic interaction with Iran in a normal format, since they cannot force their businesses to fall under US sanctions. On the other hand, Iran has completely got out of the quantitative restrictions provided for in the JCPOA. That is, technically, Iran remains part of the agreement, but at the same time ceases to comply with quantitative restrictions on its nuclear programme. The Europeans couldn’t let these facts go unanswered", he said.
"The logic of each JCPOA participant, at least the Europeans, is to respond to another participant’s action and not stand idly by. If the Europeans cannot do anything positive to maintain the JCPOA – to fully launch the financial settlement mechanism with Iran – signals need to be sent that the situation could become even worse if the other side (Iran) doesn’t stop reducing its obligations under the deal", he added.
Eurotroika Was Never True to Nuclear Deal
According to Hassan Mohammadi, Iranian nuclear energy expert, editor-in-chief of the Iranian website National Hope, and member of the media pool of the Iranian nuclear negotiators with the P5 + 1, the European signatories to the nuclear deal have never sought to take significant steps to maintain JCPOA:
"The Europeans resorted to such a step only for media publicity. In practice, they have long looked back at Trump’s position; even since the American president signed a decree on the country’s withdrawal from the JCPOA. Therefore, for Iranians, the true position of the Europeans hasn’t changed over these months. When the US imposed new sanctions against Iran, the Europeans did nothing for almost a year to support Iran: neither in the banking nor in the oil sector. On the contrary, in response to the US sanctions, they refrained from any reaction, thereby de facto taking Trump’s position. The fact that they now want to launch this mechanism won’t change anything for Iran. The Europeans have never been sincere about their commitments under the JCPOA", he said.
"Only Iran fully complied with its obligations under the nuclear deal. When Iran realised that the Europeans didn’t want to do anything to preserve the JCPOA, it started taking step-by-step actions (to reduce its obligations under the agreement). With these five steps, Iran tried to force the opposite side (namely the Europeans) to change their position and do something", the expert pointed out.
Iran Not Ready to End JCPOA Now
Adlan Margoev believes that despite the Eurotroika’s decision regarding the JCPOA, Iran will prevent the nuclear deal from collapsing at this stage and will try to opt for diplomacy to save face:
"Despite the deteriorating situation, there is reason to believe that Iran’s leadership is still committed to a diplomatic resolution of the crisis, otherwise Iran would have long been able to completely withdraw from the JCPOA, and not gradually take five steps to reduce its obligations. But Iran expects that these 5 stages can be rolled back if the United States returns to negotiations, or if the Europeans manage to fully launch trade settlement mechanisms (INSTEX) to do business with Iran. There’s still hope in Tehran that the doors to an open dialogue are still open".
It’s Important for Iran to Save Face in JCPOA
Adlan Margoev thinks that it’s too early to talk about the complete collapse of the JCPOA, but Iran has a red line on the issue of preserving the nuclear deal that the Europeans definitely shouldn’t break:
"Iran has its own red lines. One of them is the transfer of the 'Iranian dossier' to the UN Security Council and the restoration of their sanctions against Iran, which were in force before Resolution 2231. If this happens, the conflict will instantly escalate. But it’s important for Tehran to save face. In any situation, one needs to take retaliatory measures. The assassination of General Qasem Soleimani was followed by Iran attacking US bases in Iraq in such a way that it could have triggered a war between the countries", he said.
"But it’s natural that Iran won’t negotiate a new nuclear agreement if the United States holds a gun to Iran’s head and says that it’s necessary to negotiate a new deal. There will only be some one-time consultations through third countries until the United States, at least, is not responsible for the sanctions imposed against Iran", he noted.
Hassan Mohammadi also agrees that Iran has never sought to end the deal, but can do so at any time:
"Iran has never sought to withdraw from the nuclear deal that it concluded. The United States was the first to betray this international agreement. With this comes the reduced obligations, Iran was only trying to maintain its own interests in the agreement, not to break it. But if our interests are not guaranteed and respected, Iran reserves the right to permanently leave the JCPOA at any time", the expert concluded.
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