Britain, France, and Germany Oppose US Effort to Re-Impose Sanctions Against Iran
15:38 GMT 19.06.2020(updated 17:24 GMT 19.06.2020)
The statement comes following discussions between the European signatories to the deal on the future of the JCPOA agreement amid heightened tensions with the United States, which withdrew from the accord in 2018.
The UK, France, and Germany are opposed to US attempts to re-impose all UN sanctions against Iran as it would have adverse effects on the United Nations Security Council, the joint statement said. "We would not support such a decision, which would be incompatible with our current efforts to preserve the JCPOA", the foreign ministers of the three countries said in a joint statement following their talks in Berlin. The policy of maximum pressure on Tehran will not help resolve differences with Iran, they said in the joint statement.
The development comes amid heightened tensions between the remaining parties to the Iran nuclear deal and the Trump administration, which withdrew the US from the accord in 2018 and re-imposed sanctions on Tehran's oil exports, its principal source of revenue.
Last week, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said the US withdrawal from the accord was the root cause of the crisis, while Russia said that the Trump administration's politically motivated campaign against Iran should be condemned by the international community and called Washington's attempts to determine the future of the JCPOA agreement after leaving it "ridiculous and irresponsible".
Moscow's statement was echoed by the European Union's High Representative for Common Foreign and Security Policy Josep Borrell, who said that the White House can't use its former membership in the deal to try to impose an embargo on the Islamic Republic.
The lifting of the UN arms embargo on Iran was one of the key provisions of the nuclear deal, which was signed by Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia, the United States, and Tehran in 2015. Under the agreement, the restrictions imposed on Iran should be lifted five years after the deal comes into effect, meaning that the embargo will expire in November, weeks before the US presidential election.
Iran warned that it would leave the nuclear deal and quit the 1970 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty if UN sanctions are re-imposed.
In May, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo pledged to "exercise all diplomatic options" to extend the UN ban, while US Special Representative for Iran Bill Hook threatened to issue an automatic snapback of the embargo.
Experts say the development might not only torpedo the JCPOA agreement, which took years to negotiate, but also threatens the future of the United Nations Security Council.
"We are not going to get another sanctions resolution at the UN Security Council for a generation, if ever. If you're never going to get compliance from other states, it will be a choose-your-own-adventure–and nobody will do it", said Richard Nephew, who was the lead sanctions expert on the US negotiating team with Iran during the Obama administration.
The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, commonly known as the Iran nuclear deal, was signed in 2015 following years of tensions with the Islamic Republic over claims that it was trying to develop a nuclear weapon. Tehran denied all the accusations and insisted that its nuclear programme was for peaceful purposes. Under the accord Iran, agreed to curb its nuclear programme and allow inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency to visit plants in return for the lifting of economic sanctions and the arms embargo.
During his presidential campaign, Donald Trump harshly criticised the accord signed by the administration of his predecessor, Barack Obama, calling it the worst deal ever negotiated. In May of 2018, Trump withdrew the United States from the accord, accusing Tehran of violating the deal, despite the fact that the IAEA said that the Islamic Republic was complying with the agreement. Other signatories to the deal – Britain, China, France, Germany, and Russia – strongly condemned Trump's decision.
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