Europe calls for urgent meeting of JCPOA Commission

The announcement comes as concerns mount over Iran's recent breach of the 2015 nuclear deal

Photo: IRNA High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini

European signatories of the Iran nuclear deal, Britain, Germany and France accused Iran on Tuesday of “pursuing activities inconsistent with its commitments” under the deal and called for an urgent meeting of the JCPOA Commission. In particularly, the EU trio said it is "deeply concerned" about Tehran’s decision to increase uranium enrichment level.

“These compliance issues must be addressed within the framework of the JCPoA, and a Joint Commission should be convened urgently,” the foreign ministers of Britain, France and Germany, plus the EU’s top diplomat Federica Mogherini, said in a joint statement.

“Iran has stated that it wants to remain within the JCPoA. It must act accordingly by reversing these activities and returning to full JCPoA compliance without delay,” the European countries added.

The Joint Commission, chaired by Mogherini, is made up of the remaining parties to the deal - Britain, Germany, France, Russia, China and Iran -  after the US abandoned it and is aimed at monitoring the implementation and addressing any issues.

In the meantime, French President has sent a special envoy to Tehran to meet with Iran's Security Chief Ali Shamkhani today, 10 July, to discuss Europe's concerns about the implications of the suspension of Iran's commitments under the JCPOA.

The 2015 agreement, also known under its official name Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), offered Iran access to world trade through the lifting of most sanctions in return for agreeing to curbs on its nuclear program. The future of the pact, though, has been in doubt since last year when the United States pulled out of it and reimposed unilateral sanctions. Iran has said it wants to continue to abide by the agreement but cannot do so indefinitely if US sanctions prevent it from receiving any of the promised economic benefits.

The deal’s fate has come to a head in the past 10 days, after Iran announced steps breaching its commitments - it announced that it had amassed more enriched uranium than allowed under the agreement and said it had refined uranium to a higher purity. Tehran argues that its steps are permitted under the deal as a response to US non-compliance. It has also said it could take new steps in 60 days, including restarting dismantled centrifuges and purifying uranium to a sharply higher threshold if the other signatories do not find a way to to do more to help the country mitigate the effect of crippling US sanctions.

In response, at a meeting with Iran in Vienna few weeks back, the EU announced that it had set up its long planned EU-Iran trading mechanism, Instex, and said the first transactions had been completed. But Tehran is convinced that Europe could do far more to boost trade, which has collapsed over the past year, especially since a threat of US secondary sanctions has deterred almost all large Europe firms, including banks, from trading with Iran. Thus, at the Vienna meeting, Iran said some of the steps announced by the EU three, including the involvement of seven other EU states in Instex and the provision of a credit line, were positive but not sufficient, with Iran’s UN envoy, Majid Takht-Ravanchi, describing the mechanism as “a very lovely car but without any gasoline”.

As Europost reminds, at present Instex is confined solely to easing trade in humanitarian goods that are not subject to US sanctions, such as food and medicine. What Tehran has been pressing Europe for is also to use Instex to establish larger credit lines to finance Iranian oil exports to Europe. 

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