Expert Explores European Union Strategy to Save JCPOA

Expert Explores European Union Strategy to Save JCPOA Expert Explores European Union Strategy to Save JCPOA

A political analyst said the European Union has adopted a comprehensive strategy to deal with the US push to undermine the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on Tehran's nuclear program, taking the matters into its own hands to keep the outcome of two years of negotiations that settled a 12-year nuclear dispute untouched.

In an Oct. 13 speech, US President Donald Trump claimed he did not believe Iran was complying with its JCPOA obligations, without offering a shred of evidence.

Trump stopped short of withdrawing from the pact outright, but threatened it "will be terminated" unless the US Congress works with European signatories to the deal to address its "many serious flaws".

Trump's decertification move on Oct. 15 set the clock ticking on a 60-day period during which the congress can choose to reimpose US sanctions lifted under the deal, or do nothing.

Britain, France and Germany, the three European countries that joined their main ally the US and Russia and China to negotiate the deal, responded by releasing a statement shortly afterwards, which stressed the need for keeping the deal in place.

Hossein Mofidi, a European politics analyst, explored EU options to safeguard the pact in a recent article for the Iranian Diplomacy news website. Excerpts follow:

Unlike the US, the EU sees Iran as a key regional player with great geopolitical capacities, engaging with which is vital to protecting Europe's security and other interests in the Middle East.

The EU is worried that the collapse of the deal would give the impression that diplomacy is ineffective in resolving political disputes, effectively killing hopes among Iranian pragmatists that long-term agreements can remove non-nuclear bones of contention between Iran and the West.

Even worse, Europeans believe that in the absence of JCPOA, tensions between Tehran and Washington could spiral out of control and raise the specter of yet another military conflict in the already chaotic region.

  Contingency Plans

EU leaders have said they are prepared to do everything in their power to protect the nuclear deal.

As the first step, Europeans have started contacting US lawmakers to convince the US to keep the two-year deal intact and instead work with them to address Washington's complaints.

Major European powers have announced they share the US concerns over Iran's ballistic missile program and regional role they describe as "destabilizing".

However, the European approach to those concerns is different from that of the US.

"Europe believes that they should offer Iran economic incentives and work with pragmatists in Tehran to work out mutually agreed mechanisms to address the concerns, for example regarding the post-2025 situation [when some limits on Iran's nuclear works are to be removed]".

In case efforts to convince Washington fail and US sanctions are reimposed, contingencies plans are being explored in Europe to circumvent the unilateral US sanctions and protect the interests of the EU companies in Iran.

One option that the EU is reportedly considering is to use internal mechanisms to block the enforcement of extraterritorial US sanctions within the EU, which it had done in the 1990s to counter the US comprehensive embargo against Cuba.

The European Union could also seek remedial action against such sanctions through the World Trade Organization.

Likewise, Europeans could work with China and Russia to set up alternative international payment systems that limit the US control over the international financial system.

  Last Resort

In the event the US unilaterally decides to walk out of the deal, the EU may seek set up a group involving top European states, China, Russia and even other influential players from across the world to support the multilateral pact.

Establishing such a group will reassure Tehran that international sanctions will not be back unless there are credible evidence that it has violated the nuclear deal.

Moreover, it could also prevent a retaliatory response from Iran to the US failure to uphold its end of the bargain, which may include a plan to ratchet up uranium enrichment by Tehran.

Despite the fact that the US wields huge economic influence in Europe that could greatly affect decision-making in the green continent, Europeans seem to be set to hold their ground regarding the nuclear deal.

More importantly, the controversy over JCPOA has led some within the EU to argue it does not need to follow America's lead anymore, and Europeans could no longer be held hostage to an increasingly selfish US that ignores their interests.

Europeans are apparently facing a historic decision whether to stick with the policy of toeing the US line, or to break free from the tradition and revive their political independence.

Perhaps we should wait no longer than weeks to find out how much Europeans are ready to resist unreasonable demands by their strategic ally across the Atlantic.


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