The UK, France and Germany said this Thursday that despite their commitments under the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, they won’t lift sanctions on the Islamic Republic. September 14. 2023.
In a move that violates the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, the three European countries, the UK, France and Germany announced in a letter this Thursday that they won’t lift sanctions on Tehran as they committed themselves to do so under the deal.
According to the text of the nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the three European countries had agreed to lift nuclear-related sanctions on Iran in line with the timetable set out in the deal.
To read between the lines, the sanctions relief was expected to happen on 18 October 2023 as part of a sunset clause that would allow Iran to import and export ballistic missiles, including missiles and drones with a range of 300km (186 miles) or more.
“Iran is in such a serious breach of the deal, in terms of levels of stored enriched uranium and allowing UN inspectors access to its nuclear program, that sanctions relating to its ballistic missile program had to remain in force,” the letter read.
The EU external affairs chief, Josep Borrell, said the same day that he had received the letter from of the three European signatories to the Iran nuclear deal.
In the letter, the E3 also claimed that their refusal to lift the sanctions in line with the original sunset clause “does not violate the deal because the agreement contains mechanisms in case of any dispute about whether one side was in breach of the agreement”.
The E3’s unjustified excuses for violating the JCPOA
Brining up a number of excuses one more unjustified than the last, the E3 countries accused Iran of being the first to violate the JCPOA.
In this regard, the UK said it had registered a dispute about Iranian non-compliance in 2020, but Iran had not responded at all, let alone within the agreed deadline of 30 days. “Alongside our French and German partners, we have taken a legitimate and proportionate step in response to Iran’s actions,” a spokesperson for the UK foreign ministry said Thursday.
Likewise, Borrell noted that in the letter that he received, “the foreign ministers of the E3 countries state that Iran is in non-compliance since 2019 and consider that this has not been resolved through the JCPOA [Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action] dispute resolution mechanism. They express their intention not to take the steps regarding the lifting of further sanctions on JCPOA transition day on 18 October 2023.”
The UK also said it and its partners remained committed to preventing Iran from developing a nuclear weapon, but Iran’s stockpile of highly enriched uranium was at a level “beyond all credible civilian justification”. Despite the E3’s claims, it was indeed the US under the Trump administration who first violated the JCPOA and pulled out of it in 2018.
But even regarding the amount of enriched uranium in Iran, which according to Iranian officials are and will be used only for peaceful purposes, Iran recently agreed to not take its enriched uranium above 60% and also to release five US citizens held in Iran in exchange for the release of five Iranian prisoners in US $6bn of its assets held in South Korea.