Engagement With Iran in EU’s Strategic Interest


European Union foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, underlined the need to keep the 2015 nuclear deal in place since engagement with Iran remains in EU’s “vital strategic interest.”
“Together with our European and international partners, we are working hard to make sure that diplomacy with Iran continues to be possible,” he said in his address to the European Parliament’s plenary debate on the situation in Iran on Wednesday. 
The nuclear agreement, formally called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, has been unraveling since the United States pulled out in 2018 and reimposed tough sanctions against Tehran, measures that Borrell described as “regrettable”. 
He added that Iran’s overall economic figures show the agreement has fallen short of its legitimate expectations of concrete economic benefits.   
Europe’s feeble efforts to make up for the sanctions have not been able to address Iran’s woes, forcing the country to eventually scale back its commitments until it can enjoy the promised benefits once again. 
While expressing concern about Iran’s reduced compliance, Borrell pointed out that the nuclear deal is also an economic deal. 
“We cannot pretend [to ask] Iran to fulfill all the nuclear obligations if at the same time they do not get any kind of reward from the economic side,” he said. 
According to the EU official, the difficulties have also had political repercussions inside Iran, with opponents of the deal gaining strength.  
“We have seen a strengthening of those opposed to the nuclear deal, who are distrustful of the West and who do not support diplomacy and engagement,” he said. 
Borrell said as coordinator, he would continue to do everything possible to ensure the full implementation of JCPOA by all parties because “it is in our very own European security interest” and because “the agreement continues to deliver”.
“Thanks to the agreement, Iran is not able to develop nuclear weapons, despite its steps away from JCPOA obligations, and its nuclear activities continue to be closely monitored by the International Atomic Energy Agency more than any other country,” he explained. 
Iran denies ever seeking atomic weapons, maintaining that its nuclear activities are aimed at peaceful purposes. 



Opposing US Policy 

Borrell reiterated Europe’s opposition to the US attempt to bring back international sanctions against Iran, as it “would have meant the end of JCPOA”. 
“As JCPOA coordinator, I thus want to reiterate that all sanctions lifting commitments under the agreement remain in place,” he said. 
Washington argued that it remained a participant under UN Security Council Resolution 2231 that endorsed JCPOA. It then claimed to have triggered the so-called snapback process that would culminate in the return of all UN sanctions on Tehran. 
In late September, the US announced that UN resolutions against Iran had been reinstated and vowed to enforce the restrictions using its own power. 
A majority of Security Council members, including all European states, rejected this approach and underlined the importance of keeping the agreement in place. 
Borrell stressed again that the US was not in a position to initiate the process since it had freely decided to withdraw from it. 
He also said Europe would refuse to maintain a UN arms embargo on Iran after its expiration later this month as part of its JCPOA commitments. 
“We cannot say that we fight to keep the JCPOA alive and at the same time impose an arms embargo related to the JCPOA itself,” he said. 
The US had earlier submitted a resolution to the UN Security Council on extending the arms ban indefinitely, but failed to gain enough votes.

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