Europe Needs to Redress US Unhelpful JCPOA Approach

Europe Needs to  Redress US Unhelpful JCPOA ApproachEurope Needs to  Redress US Unhelpful JCPOA Approach

A nuclear negotiator called for a more active role by the European powers in the implementation of the 2015 nuclear deal to counter the setbacks inflicted by hawkish US President Donald Trump.   

"We expect the Europeans to make up for the shortcomings in [the implementation of] the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action," Abbas Araqchi said in a Saturday talk with state TV, using the official name of the accord.

"By shortcomings I mean the atmosphere that the Americans have created by their unconstructive participation in the JCPOA and their bad promises, over which issues we have repeatedly raised objections and discussed them in the Joint Commission. The Europeans have to make up for these," he explained.

Under the historic deal announced in July 2015, the administration of former US president Barack Obama and those of five other major powers committed themselves to lifting international sanctions against Iran in return for time-bound curbs on its nuclear development.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani championed the nuclear accord as a breakthrough that would help revive the sanctions-hit Iranian economy.

But the hostile JCPOA stance adopted by Trump, who has used non-nuclear pretexts to slap a spate of fresh sanctions on Iranian individuals and entities, and residual non-nuclear US sanctions that ban dollar-based transactions with Iranian businesses using the US financial system, have left overseas firms and investors wary of approaching the Iranian economy.

Araqchi, deputy foreign minister for legal and international affairs, urged the European nations to do more to build confidence in their companies about business transactions with Iranians.

***Need for Reassurance    

"The Europeans should reassure their firms that they will enjoy the European governments' full support in case they face US sanctions over their dealings with Iranians," he said.

Trump on Friday renewed an ultimatum to the US Congress and European allies to fix what he calls "disastrous faults" in the Iran nuclear deal, in what Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif denounced as a desperate attempt to rally support for his hawkish stance against Iran.

The ultimatum puts pressure on Europeans—key backers and parties to the JCPOA—to satisfy Trump, who wants the pact strengthened with a separate agreement within 120 days.

The EU said in a statement it had taken note of Trump's decision and would assess its implications.

Trump set the deadline while approving the sanctions waiver on Iran, required every four months by US law.

Trump said he would waive sanctions for the last time unless his conditions were met.

Those conditions include the removal of the expiry dates for some of the limits set in the deal on Iran's nuclear program, unfettered access to all its sites for inspection and tough restrictions on its missile program.

Meanwhile, the US Treasury Department announced new, targeted sanctions against 14 entities and people, including the head of Iran's judiciary, Ayatollah Sadeq Amoli Larijani.

A decision to withhold the waivers would have effectively ended the deal between Iran, the United States, China, France, Russia, Britain, Germany and the European Union.

The other parties to the agreement would have been unlikely to join the US in reimposing sanctions.

Britain, France and Germany called on Trump on Thursday to uphold the pact.

***Unprecedented Isolation

Araqchi said Europe's unified stance in support of the Iran nuclear deal has left the United States isolated.

"In the diplomatic battle over the past year, Iran has managed to make the US distance itself from its European allies and to push it into total isolation, which has been unprecedented."

 Iran says its nuclear program is only for peaceful purposes and that it will stick to the accord as long as the other signatories respect it.

Two EU diplomats said EU foreign ministers will discuss what to do now at their next regular meeting, scheduled for Jan. 22 in Brussels.

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