EU Urged Not to Link Non-Nuclear Issues With JCPOA

EU Urged Not to Link Non-Nuclear Issues With JCPOAEU Urged Not to Link Non-Nuclear Issues With JCPOA

Iranian officials have called on European leaders not to link non-nuclear disputes between Iran and the US with the landmark 2015 atomic deal, whose future hangs in the balance after US President Donald Trump threatened to scrap it unless its "many serious flaws" are fixed. Lawmaker Morteza Saffari Natanzi, a member of Majlis National Security and Foreign Policy Commission, said on Tuesday the deal has nothing to do with Iran's defense program.

"JCPOA solely covers nuclear issues, so naturally Iran's missile [and other] activities do not fall within its scope," he told ICANA, referring to the deal by its formal name, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

The parliamentarian said European countries are not entitled to dictate Iran's defense policy. "It's a basic right of Iran to decide how to protect its territorial integrity and safeguard the nation," he said.

Britain, France and Germany, the three European countries that negotiated the Iran deal along with the US, as well as Russia and China, were quick to protest last Friday's speech by Trump against the accord.

In a joint statement on the same day, French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and British Prime Minister Theresa May said keeping the deal is "in our shared national security interest".

However, they announced the readiness to work with Trump to address the so-called flaws in the nuclear deal, including the exclusion of Iran's ballistic missile program and its regional activities that he describes as "destabilizing". French President Emmanuel Macron said on Sunday he has told Trump "not to tear up the deal", as doing so could lead to a similar standoff as the one with North Korea.

"After that I told him, let's have a demanding dialogue; let's continue to conduct checks, but let's be much more demanding with Iran on its ballistic activity," Politico quoted him as telling French media in a TV interview. This is while Iranian officials have frequently declared Iran's missiles capability is non-negotiable.

Natanzi said Iran has told France that there is no way to convince Iran to accept reopening talks over the JCPOA and that the EU needs to reconsider its approach.

In his speech, Trump, an implacable foe of the deal and blinded by his vested interests, said he would not confirm Tehran's commitment to the deal and directed his administration to work with the US Congress and US allies to fix its "deficiencies".  Ironically, despite making repeated claims of tearing up the nuclear pact, Trump has left the task at the discretion of the US congress because he lacked the courage to face its international fallout.

The US president has again threatened that if congress and US allies cannot work out a solution, the Iran deal "will be terminated". After Trump's decertification, Congress should decide within 60 days whether to reimpose sanctions on the Islamic Republic, a step that if taken would almost certainly doom the agreement. In their Friday statement, European leaders warned Trump against reimposing sanctions and other measures that could undermine the international pact.

"We encourage the US administration and congress to consider the implications to the security of the US and its allies before taking any steps that might undermine the JCPOA, such as reimposing sanctions on Iran lifted under the agreement," the European allies said. However, the three European leaders said they share the US concerns over Iran's ballistic missile program and regional activities, and were ready to work with Washington to address those concerns.

"We look to Iran to engage in constructive dialogue to stop [the alleged] destabilizing actions and work toward negotiated solutions," the joint statement said.

Also on Tuesday, Ali Akbar Velayati, an international affairs advisor to the Leader of Islamic Revolution, strongly rejected European calls for revisiting the nuclear agreement. Velayati said Iran will not be fooled by "political games" and will not give in to any plan aimed at tying Iran's regional and missile activities to JCPOA.

"It is by no means acceptable. JCPOA includes no [unrelated] conditions and it should continue in the way agreed between Iran and major powers," he said.

In a related development, top French diplomat Jean-Yves Le Drian said on Sunday that France was open to talks to address another alleged flaw in the deal, namely what happens after 2025, when certain limits on Iran's nuclear program are set to expire. "We can open preliminary discussions with Tehran on what happens after 2025 ... If safeguards or inspections are required on this date, we will start discussing them," he said, referring to curbs Washington would like to see extended in perpetuity. Velayati said Iran is not going to engage in talks over the post-2025 situation either. "Iran won't allow the extension of the duration of JCPOP," he said.

Le Drian is to travel to Iran in the coming days.


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