US Anti-JCPOA Stance a Test for Europe

US Anti-JCPOA Stance a Test for EuropeUS Anti-JCPOA Stance a Test for Europe

European signatories to the Iran nuclear pact are facing a decisive test of support for the international agreement in the face of the US dogged determination to derail its implementation, a former Iranian foreign minister said.

"Europe is facing a great test to assert its stance against the US on the deal. We hope this test would prove the independence of Europe's policy from that of the United States," added Kamal Kharrazi, who currently heads Iran's Strategic Council on Foreign Relations, IRNA reported.

He was speaking in a panel discussion in Tehran on Monday with France's former foreign minister, Hubert Vedrine.

Britain, France and Germany joined the United States, Russia and China in about two years of EU-coordinated negotiations with Iran that produced the 2015 nuclear pact.

It was meant to ease sanctions against the Islamic Republic in return for scaling down its nuclear development.

But US President Donald Trump came to office in January with a pledge to either undo or rework what he branded "the worst deal ever".

He has imposed several rounds of sanctions against Tehran, the most notable of which came in late July to punish it for its disputed missile program and alleged human rights abuses, terrorism sponsorship and arms smuggling.

That hawkish position has put the beleaguered Republican at odds with the other signatories to the deal, including Washington's European allies who have repeatedly reaffirmed their backing for its continued, thorough implementation.

***Strategic Moment

Vedrine said the time has come for the European parties to make a momentous decision about whether to go along with Trump.

"We are now witnessing a strategic moment and there will come a time in the near future when other signatories will have to act to thwart the US negative approach toward the deal. It is in the interest of the signatories to adhere to their commitments and implement the nuclear agreement," he added.

Trump has, in recent weeks, ramped up pressure on the International Atomic Energy Agency, the body tasked with policing Tehran's commitments, to seek access to the Iranian military sites, where he claims certain nuclear-related activities might have remained undeclared without any evidence.

Iranian officials have flatly rejected Trump's demand as "only a dream".

A week ago, France's current Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian expressed deep concern that Trump might undermine the landmark pact.

"The agreement, which was passed two years ago, enables Iran to give up on a nuclear weapon and so avoid proliferation. We have to guarantee this stance," Le Drian said.

"I am worried at this moment in time by the position of President Trump who could put into question this accord."

Tehran denies the western claim that its nuclear work might have had military dimensions, saying the program is solely for civilian applications. This has been confirmed in various rounds of inspections conducted by the International Atomic Energy Agency.

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