EU warns Iran of consequences

Foreign ministers urge Tehran to fully comply with nuclear deal or be sanctioned

Photo: Xinhua Federica Mogherini attends a press conference after a meeting of the EU Foreign Affairs Council, Brussels, 11 November.

European countries made a new attempt on Monday to persuade Iran to stick to the 2015 nuclear deal, under which it agreed to curbs on its nuclear programme in return for the lifting of sanctions. EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini and foreign ministers of the European signatories of the deal - Britain, France and Germany - issued a statement urging Tehran to comply with the accord with major powers, known as the JCPOA, or face action which could include the reimposition of sanctions.

“Iran must return to full implementation of its commitments under the JCPOA without delay,” the joint statement said. The authors expressed concerns about Iran's decision to resume low-grade uranium enrichment at its underground Fordow nuclear plant a week ago, saying the move was inconsistent with the accord. “We affirm our readiness to consider all mechanisms in the JCPOA, including the dispute resolution mechanism, to resolve the issues related to Iran's implementation of its JCPOA commitments,” they said. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in a report from 11 November confirmed that Iran was restarting uranium enrichment activities at the Fordow facility.

The E3/EU statement said the European countries fully upheld their JCPOA commitments, including sanctions-lifting as foreseen under the JCPOA, and stand ready to continue their diplomatic efforts to create the conditions for the de-escalation of tensions in the Middle East. The EU sees the nuclear pact as a key component of regional and global security and has struggled to stop the nuclear deal from unravelling since President Donald Trump unilaterally pulled the US out of it over a year ago, triggering economic sanctions against Iran. “We want to preserve the deal, but Iran must finally return to its commitments and comply with them, otherwise we will reserve the right to use all mechanisms that are set out in the agreement,” German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said at a meeting with its EU colleagues in Brussels on Monday. “It's a great agreement and we need to keep it alive,” Slovakia's Foreign Minister Miroslav Lajcak told reporters.

In quickly responding to the EU call, Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif tweeted on Tuesday, that “Europeans have failed to fulfill their own commitments to Iran's 2015 nuclear deal”. Iran has long blamed the Europeans for failing to provide the economic benefits it was meant to receive under the 2015 agreement.

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