Europeans to toughen up Iran stance but shy away from sanctions: report

TEHRAN, Dec. 20 (MNA) – European parties to the Iran nuclear deal are likely to trigger a dispute resolution process in January to force Tehran to rollback its retaliatory JCPOA steps, but would stop short of rushing to restore UN sanctions that would kill off the accord, diplomats said.

Iran has criticized Britain, France and Germany for failing to salvage the 2015 pact by shielding Tehran’s economy from the US’s unilateral sanctions, reimposed since last year when Washington exited the agreement between Iran and six major powers.

In reaction to Washington’s “maximum pressure” and the EU's lack of any practical measures, Iran has gradually reduced its commitments under the deal in a bid to restore balance and push the European sides to live up to their own commitments. 

Meanwhile, according to a report by Reuters on Friday, six European and Western diplomats said the so-called E3 of Britain, France and Germany had agreed in principle to begin a dispute resolution process in January, although they would still wait to see how significant Iran’s latest steps were before taking a final decision.

“Launching the process aims to resolve the problematic issues and save the deal,” said a European diplomatic source. “It’s not automatic that UN sanctions will follow. If we decided to do that (reimpose UN sanctions) it would mean that we have decided to put the final nail in the coffin.”

Under the terms of the 2015 deal, if any party believes another is not upholding their commitments, they can refer the issue to a Joint Commission comprising Iran, Russia, China, the three European powers, and the European Union.

They then have 15 days to resolve their differences but can choose to extend the period by consensus between all the parties.

However, if it is not extended the process escalates and can ultimately lead to the reimposition of sanctions that were in place under previous UN resolutions – known as a “snapback” – unless the UN Security Council decided otherwise.

Diplomats said that unless Iran’s upcoming measures "crossed an unacceptable threshold", the Europeans would focus on extending the process rather than pushing towards sanctions. It is unclear what the breaking point for the European powers is, the report added.

Reuters further quotes the three unnamed diplomats that the E3, in particular France, were lobbying Russia and China to get them on board to show unity between the five, even though Moscow and Beijing oppose launching the process for now.

“We still feel that diplomacy is not dead,” a second diplomat said.


News Code 153537


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