ELN Expert:

US withdrawal from JCPOA would put Europe-US relations in crisis

News ID: 4096559 -
TEHRAN, Sep. 25 (MNA) – Commenting on the possible Trump administration’s withdrawal from the JCPOA, Research Director of the European Leadership Network, Lukasz Kulesa says this would put Europe-US relations in crisis.

While the IAEA has certified Iran’s compliance with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) several times and even Trump administration has certified Iran's compliance with JCPOA twice under a law that requires it to notify Congress of Iran's compliance every 90 days, there are some reports that president Trump's administration is planning to decertify Iran's compliance with the international nuclear agreement (JCPOA).

Recent actions taken by the US administration demonstrate that President Donald Trump plans to renege on the Iran nuclear agreement which Iran unlikely to accept.

76 senior political, diplomatic and military figures from across Europe on Sep. 18 in a statement organized by the European Leadership Network (ELN), arguing that any unilateral US action that jeopardizes the Iran nuclear deal would trigger a crisis in US-Europe relations, damaging the US’s international standing and credibility in Europe.

To shed more light on the issue Tehran Times reached out to the Research Director of the European Leadership Network , Lukasz Kulesa.

Following is the text of his interview:

What concerns made the prominent European figures issue the statement on the JCPOA?

 There is one immediate and one broader concern behind the statement from the ELN’s members. The immediate concern is that the Trump Administration is about to conclude its review of policy towards Iran. Then, in mid-October, it will decide whether or not to certify to the US Congress that Iran is complying with the JCPOA and that the deal is beneficial for the US. The statement’s signatories are worried about reports from the US that President Trump will not certify Iran's compliance, which would open the way for Congress to re-introduce sanctions and put the JCPOA under threat. The statement is aimed at influencing the US decisions by clearly demonstrating European support for the JCPOA.

The broader concern is about the future of Europe-US relations. Europeans see the JCPOA as a positive achievement of multilateral diplomacy that is good for Europe’s security. It's worrisome that Trump sees it as a major defeat.  The statement’s signatories are not critics of the US. On the contrary, they would like to stop Washington from making a grave mistake that would put Europe-US relations in crisis.   

 Despite the fact that the JCPOA has nothing to do with regional issues, Trump administration tries to tie many ongoing issues in the Middle East to the Nuclear Deal with Iran. Why?

Only the Trump Administration can really answer this.  But even at the time the deal was signed, its critics argued that it did not address other issues, such as Iran’s ballistic missile program and Iran's regional policy. So the idea that Iran can be forced to change its wider policy if it is pushed harder on the JCPOA, is not new. The basic problem with this approach is that it threatens the existing deal, which limits Iran's nuclear program, and offers nothing but a very vague promise of a 'better deal'. At the same time, past experience shows that Iran is unlikely to give way under pressure from the US.

However, please remember that many signatories of the ELN statement are critical of Iran's missile program and aspects of its internal and external policies, such as support for Syria and Hizbullah. But they believe these matters should be addressed through more diplomacy, not through more threats, and outside the framework of the JCPOA.

While the recent IAEA report and trump he himself has confirmed that Iran has met its obligations under the JCPOA, the white House seeks to withdraw from the nuclear deal with Iran and says the IAEA inspection mechanisms are not efficient and asks for inspection of Iran military sites. And also recently Trump has extended Iran sanctions relief for another 120 days and at the same time his treasury state imposed new sanctions on some Iranian companies and individuals. Some say Trump has chosen diplomatic approach and just not to reduce his political pressure and attack on Iran he imposes new sanctions besides extending sanction relief. What is Trump Administration after, in fact?

President Trump clearly thinks that the JCPOA was a one-sided deal, in which only Iran benefited and the US got little in return. This mis-represents the JCPOA, in which all sides - including Iran - made concessions and offered compromises. The basic question in Europe is currently not whether a “better” deal is possible, but rather whether all sides comply with the deal as it is. At this point, it seems there are no compliance issues which cannot be addressed through JCPOA mechanisms.

But the deeper issue is the profound lack of trust between the United States and Iran.  It is hard for some Americans to believe that the deal is not an Iranian “trick”. For many Americans the problem is not the JCPOA as such, or access to particular sites, but rather the Iranian external policy or even the existence of the Islamic Republic as such. I assume the Trump Administration’s ultimate aim is to pressure Iran into changing its overall policy, and criticism of JCPOA is just one element of this approach. That policy has support from the Israeli government and some Arab states, but there is little willingness in Europe and Russia to play along.

If the US withdraws from the Nuclear Deal, obviously the European companies and banks won’t work with Iran under US pressure even if their governments remain committed to the JCPOA. This won’t be pleasing for Iran. Shouldn’t European countries provide their companies and banks with necessary guarantees? How can Europeans do this?

This is the situation we also want to avoid, as it would hurt Europe-Iran relations at a moment when they have started slowly to recover. If the US quits the deal unilaterally and in bad faith, it seems likely that European governments and the EU would want to defend European companies and individuals from any re-introduced US sanctions, by providing additional financial guarantees and supporting European companies in any legal actions against them by the US courts. This is a point the ELN statement is making strongly: it is unlikely that the other governments supporting the JCPOA would just accept US actions and comply with new sanctions. We hope we never get to that point.

At the same time, it will be very important that Iran shows restraint in responding to any US actions and coordinates its responses with other JCPOA countries. Any move, for example, to expand nuclear enrichment or limit IAEA access would cause alarm in Europe.

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