December 19, The Iran Project – The European Union, one of the Iran nuclear deal’s signatories, vowed to create a mechanism to keep trading with the country despite the re-imposition of US sanctions, but so far it hasn’t materialized. This is while Iran hopes they would fulfill their promises before the start of 2019.
Although other countries have stuck with the nuclear agreement also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) signed with Iran, US President Donald Trump withdrew the United States from the 2015 deal in May and announced that US economic sanctions on Iran would return in two phases.
Under the deal, reached between Iran and six major powers – the US, Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China, Tehran agreed to put limits on its nuclear program in exchange for the removal of nuclear-related sanctions.
A first round of American sanctions took effect in August, targeting Iran’s access to the US dollar, metals trading, coal, industrial software, and auto sector.
In November, the Trump administration announced the re-imposition of the “toughest” sanctions ever against Iran’s banking and energy sectors with the aim of cutting off the country’s oil sales and crucial exports.
US isolation at UN
On Wednesday Dec. 12, the US was alone at the United Nations Security Council in blasting the Iran nuclear deal, as the UN, European Union, and several European allies praised the agreement for preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon and expressed disappointment in the US decision to exit, one month after all of its sanctions snapped back into place on Iran.
Speaking before the Security Council, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo urged the UN to re-impose a ban on Iran on all ballistic missile activity, saying it’s time for the Security Council to get serious about this real risk from proliferation from the Iran.
But while almost all 15 other members expressed concern with Iran’s ballistic missiles, they mostly voiced continued support for the deal and criticized the US “challenges” to it.
Meanwhile, Iran has reiterated that its missile program only serves to defend the country against threats and that the West is in no position to discuss it or demand negotiations over it.
“Without JCPOA, any negotiations with Iran to be difficult”
In a meeting of EU Non-Proliferation Consortium on Tuesday Dec. 18, Federica Mogherini, High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, said “With no nuclear deal any negotiations with Iran would be much more difficult, not easier.”
“Thanks to the nuclear deal we now have new channels to engage, and engage even in a constructive manner – as some recent developments on Yemen have shown – with Iran to discuss regional issues … [and] also security matters,” Mogherini added.
Setting deadline for Europe’s anti-sanctions measures is urgent
In an interview with ICANA, a member of Majlis (Iranian parliament) said Iran needs to set a timeframe for the European Union to enact its measures aimed at protecting Iran against the United States’ sanctions so as to avoid being left in limbo for a long time.
“[Iranian officials] should set a deadline and, as soon as it expires, resume the nuclear activities that we accepted to restrict [under the 2015 pact] without appeasement of other countries,” the lawmaker told reporters.
“EU holding nuclear deal hostage to corner Iran”
Iran’s daily Siasat-e-Rooz in an article wrote the European Union has been holding the Iran nuclear deal hostage so that it can press Tehran into meeting its other unrelated demands.
“Even though the EU has been portraying itself as a supporter and defender of the JCPOA, it has failed to adopt any practical step to that effect. It would thus be inexpedient to have the Iranian people pay the price for keeping the JCPOA alive — as is desired by its proponents inside and outside the Iranian administration,” the paper said.
It added that it is crystal clear that Europe is seeking to use the nuclear deal as leverage to corner Iran into fulfilling certain EU-US joint demands.
EU to sustain loss if it fails to fulfill JCPOA commitments
Talking to Fars News Agency (FNA) on Tuesday Dec. 18, Head of Iran’s Foreign Policy Strategic Council Kamal Kharrazi said if the Europeans do not live up to their promises under the JCPOA, including the trade mechanism, they will be the ones to sustain loss.
With regard to the trade mechanism known as the Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) that the Europe has promised Iran to continue business under US sanctions, Kharrazi stated that everyone hopes that Europe keeps its promise, adding “Europe is expected to take practical steps in this regard.”
Iran’s 20% uranium enrichment option “no bluff”
Earlier, on Dec. 13, the head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran said the country’s readiness to restart the process of enriching uranium to a purity level of 20 percent at the Fordow nuclear site in case efforts to save the Iran nuclear deal fail is not a bluff at all.
Ali Akbar Salehi said while Iran has accepted to put confidence-building curbs on its nuclear program under the 2015 nuclear deal, such restrictions do not obstruct the “peaceful activities of Iran’s nuclear industry.”
“The enrichment is currently underway, but we would put aside the 300kg limit (set by the JCPOA) whenever we wish, and would do the enrichment at any volume and level,” he stressed.
“We currently have 1,044 centrifuges in Fordow, and if the establishment wants, we will restart 20-percent uranium enrichment in Fordow,” he said.
The top official also expressed hope that the remaining parties to the nuclear agreement would honor their commitments and fill the gap created by the US after its unilateral withdrawal from the agreement.