EghtesadOnline: European powers are likely to put off for weeks a decision on triggering a dispute procedure in the nuclear deal with Iran, which could reimpose international sanctions, diplomats said.
Since July 1, Iran has gone over two limits in the 2015 nuclear deal that placed restraints on Iran’s nuclear activities in exchange for the suspension of most international sanctions and promises of economic benefits.
Iran has threatened to take more as yet unspecified steps to reduce compliance with the accord’s terms in September, saying its actions are justified by the US withdrawal from the nuclear accord and Washington’s imposition of tight sanctions.
After Iran’s recent moves, US President Donald Trump has said Washington is drawing up new sanctions on the country, according to Financial Tribune.
US officials and lawmakers have also called on Europe to take a tougher stance against Iran.
The US triggered a meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency’s Board of Governors this week to focus on Iran’s nuclear measures, but failed to even convince the board’s members to issue a statement against Tehran’s decision.
European officials believe none of the steps Tehran has taken so far significantly reduce Iran’s so-called breakout time—the amount of time it would take Iran to amass enough fissile material for a nuclear weapon, an objective that Iran says will never pursue.
They also acknowledge Iran’s statement that the steps it has taken to expand and further enrich its stockpile of uranium can be easily reversed and say this is not the time to escalate tensions between Europe and Iran, but to pursue diplomacy, the Wall Street Journal reported.
“It is not yet time to trigger” the dispute mechanism, said one senior European diplomat on Friday. “The conditions are not there yet.”
A second senior European diplomat stressed that Iran’s actions have been carefully calibrated so far.
While Iran has exceeded the 3.67% threshold in the nuclear deal for enriching uranium, it had only enriched up to 4.5% as of July 9. That is well below the 20% enrichment some Iranian officials had threatened and that Iran was conducting before the nuclear accord. Weapons-grade uranium is around 90%.
The dispute resolution mechanism was designed to be used “where all other means of consultation” had failed, the diplomat said.
There is still time to discuss alleged “violations” among the nuclear deal participants before any action is taken, the person said.
France is spearheading diplomatic efforts to try to reduce tensions over the nuclear deal. French President Emmanuel Macron’s diplomatic adviser was in Tehran this week for talks. European Union foreign ministers will discuss the tensions with Iran on Monday.
Iran has so far avoided taking drastic steps to sharply ramp up its nuclear program. It has not reinstalled spare centrifuges to enrich uranium more quickly. It has also continued cooperating with the International Atomic Energy Agency’s monitors, western diplomats said.
One key date the Europeans are awaiting is Aug. 2, when the US must decide whether to roll over its final sanctions exemptions connected to the nuclear deal. Those exemptions allow Russia, China and Europe to work on modernizing and redesigning two of Iran’s nuclear facilities.
US officials have discussed killing off those exemptions to pressure Tehran to stop all enrichment activities.
European officials fear this could drive Iran further from the 2015 accord. They are wary of triggering the dispute procedure before the US has made a decision on the waivers.
Earlier this week, France, Britain and Germany called for Iran to immediately reverse its nuclear steps and said the parties in the deal should meet urgently.
Officials said that discussion, which could be at the foreign ministers level, might take place in late July.