Can Europe safeguard Iran nuclear deal?

April 29, The Iran Project – As the May 12th deadline for US President Donald Trump’s Iran decision draws near, these days, all eyes are set on this question that what the Europe can do to  save this landmark nuclear deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

At present, several high-ranking Iranian and foreign officials are trying to put pressure on the United States to fulfill its obligations under the 2015 nuclear agreement amid Washington’s threat to pull out of it.

 Re-imposition of Sanctions

In an interview with American media Associated Press “AP“, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif referred to re-imposition of sanctions by US against Iran as walking away from the nuclear deal.

“If Trump re-imposes sanctions, basically killing the deal,” Iran would no longer be bound by the pact’s international obligations, freeing it up to resume enrichment far beyond the deal’s strict limits,” AP quoted Zarif as saying.

“If the United States were to withdraw from the nuclear deal, the immediate consequence in all likelihood would be that Iran would reciprocate and withdraw,” Zarif stated.

According to AP, Zarif also pointed out that if Trump upends the nuclear deal, Iran could also choose to leave the global Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which aims to stop the spread of nuclear weapons.

“Iran’s government isn’t advocating an exit, it is one of the options that is being advocated by some in Iran,” Iranian FM was quoted as saying.

Damaging JCPOA

In a meantime, Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister for Political Affairs Seyyed Abbas Araqchi has recently announced that Iran’s foreign ministry won’t allow Americans’ animosity against Iran to damage the JCPOA or Iran’s interests.

“We will not allow Americans’ animosity against Iran to damage the JCPOA or the interests of the Islamic Republic of Iran,” said Araqhchi.

“The current sensitive situation, in regards with regional issues, the JCPOA, and the underway new decisions, requires that we constantly keep in touch with different countries, especially the Europeans which are connected with the issue of the JCPOA and international issues,” reiterated the Iranian diplomat.

Araqchi said the US government’s “obstructions” and moves against the 2015 nuclear deal, also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), has put the deal on the verge of collapse.

 Political Negotiations

Last week, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres reiterated support for the Iran nuclear deal, calling on all parties to comply with their commitments under the deal.

He made the remarks in a meeting with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in New York on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) High-level Meeting on Sustaining Peace which opened on April 24.

New Diplomatic Framework

Trump is likely to scrap the Iran nuclear deal, French President Emanuel Macron said, adding that he is working on containing the damage with an ambitious new diplomatic framework.

Macron made the comments during a roundtable with reporters Wednesday night (April 25) on the eve of his trip home following three days of high-stakes meetings with Trump about the thorniest foreign policy issues facing the two leaders.

On Tuesday, Trump had stopped short of voicing support for Macron’s idea of a supplemental agreement, or set of agreements, on non-nuclear issues but had suggested he might at least be reconsidering his vow to abrogate the JCPOA by declining to extend sanctions relief when presidential waivers falls due on 12 May.

With their president in an apparent state of flux, US officials gave mixed messages on the US position on the JCPOA on Wednesday.

Although Macron took every effort to reach a compromise on the Iran nuclear agreement with Trump, serious disagreements on the accord still remain, former French Ambassador to Iran Francois Nicoullaud said, shedding light on the potential consequences of Trump’s withdrawal from the deal.

If the Trump administration withdraws from the Iran nuclear agreement and resumes anti-Iranian sanctions it will inevitably hit the US’ European allies, says former French Ambassador to Iran Francois Nicoullaud, commenting on Macron’s recent visit to Washington.

 Nuclear Weapons

Speaking in a joint press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Washington on Friday (April 27), Trump said Iran will not acquire nuclear weapons.

“I don’t talk about whether or not I would use military force…,but I can tell you this, they will not be doing nuclear weapons. That I can tell you. OK? They are not going to be doing nuclear weapons. You can bank on it.”

Meanwhile, Merkel called the deal “a first step that has contributed to slowing down their activities in this particular respect,” but added that she will continue to be in very close talks with the US over the issue.

“Europe and the United States ought to be in lock step on this,” she noted.

Germany’s top priority regarding Iran is to preserve the existing international nuclear deal, a foreign ministry spokesman Rainer Breul stated.

“For us, the position stays clear – the highest priority is keeping the nuclear agreement and full implementation on all sides,” he said.

“The nuclear agreement was negotiated with seven countries and the EU can’t be renegotiated or replaced on a whim, but it is also clear that beyond the nuclear agreement we want to make sure that Iran’s nuclear programme serves exclusively peaceful purposes,” he said.

 JCPOA Effectively Working

EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini stressed the current deal with Iran is working effectively to keep Tehran from developing nuclear weapons and should be preserved for the future.

Mogherini said that “on what can happen in the future we will see in the future. But there is one deal, existing, it is working, It needs to be preserved.”

Call for saving JCPOA

China has said it will continue to uphold and implement a multilateral nuclear agreement reached between Iran and the P5+1 group of countries.

Speaking at a press briefing, a spokeswoman for Chinese Foreign Ministry, Hua Chunying, expressed Beijing’s support for the nuclear agreement.

“The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on the Iran nuclear program is a multilateral agreement reached by six countries, European Union and Iran after negotiations. It has also been endorsed by the United Nations Security Council in Resolution 2231,” Hua said.

She urged all signatories to the nuclear accord to improve dialogue and cooperation with the purpose of safeguarding it.

Iran and the P5+1 countries – namely the US, Russia, China, France and Britain plus Germany – finalized the nuclear accord in July 2015 and started implementing it in January 2016.

Under the deal, Iran undertook to apply certain limits to its nuclear program in exchange for the termination of all nuclear-related sanctions against Tehran.

Trump, who took office one year after the accord came into force, has been a vociferous critic of it. He has called the agreement the “worst deal ever” and even threatened to tear it up repeatedly.

Back in January, Trump said it was the last time he was extending the sanctions relief for Iran as part of the nuclear deal, giving the European signatories a May 12 deadline to fix what he claimed to be the “flaws” in the agreement or he would refuse to waive those bans.

This is while the nuclear agreement is an international document and endorsed by the Security Council Resolution 2231.