The Iranian government announced on Sunday evening that it will no longer adhere to certain limits agreed under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (“JCPOA“) and will therefore no longer observe limitations on uranium enrichment, stockpiles of enriched uranium or nuclear research and development. Despite this, Iran has stated that it remains open to negotiations with partners in Europe who have sought to help Iran continue trading overseas despite US sanctions (through the INSTEX vehicle, see earlier blog post here) and noted that the steps it has taken could be reversed if the US lifts its sanctions against Iran.
In response to Iran’s statement that it will no longer adhere to parts of the JCPOA, it has been reported yesterday that EU parties to the agreement are considering whether to launch the dispute resolution process provided under the JCPOA. The dispute resolution mechanism can be instigated if one of the parties to the JCPOA believes that the agreed commitments have not been met by another party; the ultimate outcome of the process could be the “snapping back” of UN and EU sanctions on Iran. The EU’s 28 foreign ministers are expected to hold an emergency meeting on Friday to discuss the situation. When asked whether the dispute resolution mechanism would be triggered, an EU diplomat stated that “It is increasingly likely, but not yet decided. Friday will be key”.
The following have so far also released statements on Iran’s actions over the last few days:
- Boris Johnson’s spokesperson stated that Iran’s announcement was “extremely concerning” and that the nuclear deal “is a reciprocal deal”; the spokesperson stated the UK was speaking to its partners regarding next steps.
- Germany commented on Iran’s decision to abandon limitations on enriching uranium, stating that this could trigger the end of a nuclear deal. German Foreign Minister, Heiko Maas, stated that “this could be the first step to the end of this agreement, which would be a big loss so we will weigh this up very, very responsibly now.” However, Germany also stressed that, despite Iran’s announcement on Sunday, it wanted to save Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal. Although Iran’s decision would be a breach of the JCPOA, Germany stressed that this would not automatically end the agreement.
- France’s President Emmanuel Macron, Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel and the UK’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson released a joint statement yesterday on the recent attacks on coalition forces in Iraq and the role Iran played in the region, emphasising an “urgent need for de-escalation” and calling on Iran to ” to refrain from further violent action or proliferation, and urging Iran to reverse all measures inconsistent with the JCPOA.”