European states trigger dispute mechanism in Iran nuclear deal

Clay Curtis
January 14, 2020

The accord - deemed at the time to be a landmark achievement - sought to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons in exchange for sanctions relief and global powers beginning to welcome the country back into the worldwide community.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Tuesday called for US President Donald Trump to put forward a new agreement, in lieu of the existing Iran nuclear deal, that would guarantee Tehran can not acquire nuclear weapons.

The nuclear diplomacy is at the heart of a broader confrontation between Iran and the United States, which killed Iran's most powerful military commander in a drone strike on January 3 after tit-for-tat exchanges that began with the killing of an American contractor on a base in Iraq.

Mr Johnson said Britain had played its " traditional role" in serving as the bridge between the "European powers and the United States".

Activating the mechanism - which is only possible if one or more signatories suspect a non-compliance with the deal - could eventually lead to the UN Security Council deciding whether to bring back sanctions against Iran.

On the other hand, President Donald Trump had vowed that Iran will never have a nuclear weapon under his watch.

European leaders launched the Iran nuclear deal's dispute mechanism on Tuesday over Tehran's failure to adhere to limits outlined under the 2015 accord. The US has imposed extra territorial sanctions making it near impossible for European firms to trade with Iran and not risk swingeing US fines.

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He added: "The problem with the JCPOA as far as the Americans are concerned is that it was negotiated by President Obama. we need a Trump deal".

The decision was taken in principle before Christmas by the three European powers, and not prompted by the recent Iranian attack on USA bases in Iraq, or the Iranian's accidental downing of the Ukrainian airliner.

The other parties to the deal - the three European powers plus China and Russian Federation - have tried to keep it alive.

Iran has taken its five successive steps away from the deal because it says the European Union has not fulfilled its commitment to boost trade.

A second diplomat said: "Our intention is not to restore sanctions, but to resolve our differences through the very mechanism that was created in the deal".

In the BBC interview, Johnson said he was on vacation when the strike on Soleimani in Baghdad was carried out.

On the deal, he said: "If we're going to get rid of it, let's replace it and let's replace it with the Trump deal... Let's work together to replace the JCPOA [Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action] and get the Trump deal instead".

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