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European Union in a delicate balancing act to salvage Iran nuclear deal

26th Jul 2019
European Union in a delicate balancing act to salvage Iran nuclear deal

Participants in the talks on the Iran nuclear deal pose for a group photo at the UN building in Vienna, Austria, on July 14, 2015. (Photo: Hasan Tosun/Anadolu Agency)

Hamed Chapman

The European Union has attempted to play down Iran starting to breach its nuclear deal over a year after the unilateral withdrawal by the United States and subsequent rise in jingoism from Washington as well as in London.

After a meeting in Brussels on June 15, European Union foreign ministers concluded that the breaches to the 2015 agreement by Iran so far were not serious enough to take steps that could lead to re-imposing international sanctions and a collapse of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) accord.

The deal, which took a decade to reach, was the only option to curb Iran’s nuclear programme and ministers were reluctant to trigger the dispute mechanism in the accord that could effectively lead to a total collapse.

“For the time being, none of the parties to the agreement has signalled their intention to invoke this article,” Federica Mogherini, the European Union’s top foreign policy official, said. None believed that there has been “significant noncompliance.”

The European Union and Iran have been playing cat and mouse since President Donald Trump pulled the US out of the so-called JCPOA and re-imposed crippling sanctions against Iran, which was described by former British Ambassador to Washington, Kim Darroch, as “diplomatic vandalism.”

Before moving to exceed the amount and purity of the uranium permitted under the accord, Iran had been seeking to get the European Union to stand up to the threat of United States sanctions under what is called Instex (Instrument in Support of Trade Exchanges) to allow companies to keep trading but vitally excluded oil.

In the meantime, the United States has taken up to gunboat diplomacy, sending military equipment and troops to the Persian Gulf. More recently, it was joined by the UK in seizing an Iranian supertanker off the coast of Gibraltar, claiming it was upholding sanctions against Syria though Spain said it was at the behest of Washington.

Despite the provocations, Iranian Foreign Minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, has insisted that Tehran remained committed to the nuclear deal as long as s long as the remaining signatures, France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Russia and China observed its terms, effectively wanting them not to be bullied by United States threats.

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