Iran and Europe appear to be increasingly divided and their views regarding the 2015 nuclear agreement seem to be diverging as Europe’s stance regarding Iran and its nuclear program gets increasingly closer to the Washington’s view.
During a news conference before leaving New York Thursday evening Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani accused Europe of “inaction” and “lack of will” to stand by the promises it made to Iran after the United States withdrew from the nuclear deal in 2018.
He added that Europe is not willing to bear any cost to keep the nuclear deal aka Joint Comprehensive plan of Action (JCPOA) alive.
While Rouhani said that Iran will take the 4th step in reducing its commitments to the JCPOA in October, Europe has reportedly warned Iran on Friday that EU might leave the JCPOA as a result of Iran’s action.
The British newspaper the Guardian quoted an informed source in New York that the warning has been “privately” handed over to Iranian officials during their visit to New York.
This comes while after an extraordinary meeting of the remaining parties in the JCPOA, EU Foreign Policy Chief Federica Mogherini told reporters that in spite of increasing challenges, there is still a will to keep the JCPOA alive.
Meanwhile, she called once again on Iran to reverse the reduction of its commitments and return to the nuclear deal and respect all of its obligations.
According to the Guardian, European sides in the JCPOA (UK, France and Germany) might activate the “trigger mechanism” stipulated in the JCPOA.
Based on the JCPOA, in the worst-case scenario, Iran’s case could be then handed over to the UN Security Council which might reactivate all of the sanctions it temporarily lifted after the 2015 agreement.
Iran started to reduce its commitment to the JCPOA on the anniversary of the U.S. pull-out from the deal, on May 9 and so far has increased its level of Uranium enrichment and the stockpile of its enriched uranium and has started using modern centrifuges that enables it to enrich more uranium, more quickly.
This has raised concern in international community as it could shorten the time Iran will need to develop a bomb or at least produce weapon grade enriched Uranium.
However, Iran insists that its measures are reversible and it will revert to its full commitments as soon as Europeans help it to export at least 700,000 barrels of oil every day and ensure the repatriation of Tehran’s oil revenue.
The EU as well as the EU-3 who are members of the JCPOA deal, (UK, France and Germany] had expressed concern in early September about the possible demise of the deal and had called on Iran to cooperate with the UN nuclear watchdog IAEA.
Rouhani warned on Thursday that “Iran can no longer unilaterally pay all the cost to keep the JCPOA going. This is impossible.” What Iran means is that it was abiding by the agreement, while punished by U.S. sanctions.
In the meantime, on Tuesday, Sky News in Arabic quoted the U.S. Special Envoy for Iran Brian Hook who acknowledged that there have been major changes in Europe’s position regarding Iran, adding “This is a diplomatic defeat for Iran.”
Earlier in this week, the three European signatories to the JCPOA blamed Iran for the attacks on Aramco facilities in Saudi Arabia in a joint statement which was perceived as a sign of similarity between Europe and the United States’ positions vis-a-vis Iran.
Analysts in Iran and other countries have been warning since May that reduction of Iran’s commitment to the JCPOA will inevitably bring Europe closer to the United States and will further isolate Iran in international community. The attack on Saudi oil facilities, also seem to have adversely affected Iran’s ties with Europe.