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EghtesadOnline: The official ratification of the UN nuclear watchdog's Additional Protocol can give Iran an advantage over the United States, says a political expert, who maintains that Europe does not want the 2015 nuclear deal to collapse for security reasons.

"I do not believe that stopping the implementation of the Additional Protocol would serve as a Trump card for Iran. Rather, its [parliamentary] ratification is more important at this juncture and could help Iran thwart US efforts," Rahman Qahremanpour also told IRNA in a recent interview.

The Additional Protocol allows UN inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency to carry out more intrusive inspections of Iran's nuclear program, according to Financial Tribune.

Under the nuclear deal signed by Tehran with the six world powers, including the US, Iran agreed to ratify the protocol eight years after the deal was adopted. That would be the same time when the United States must permanently terminate many of its sanctions on Iran.

Iran is already implementing the protocol voluntarily and has offered in the past to get the parliamentary ratification earlier, if the US government abandons its economic sanctions. 

Tensions between the two countries have increased since US President Donald Trump's decision last year to abandon the accord unilaterally, under which it agreed to rein in its atomic program in return for broad relief from economic sanctions. 

Some Iranian officials have argued that Tehran should stop implementing the protocol in response to the US exit and Europe's inaction to save the agreement. 

Qahremanpour says there are some misunderstandings inside the country about the Additional Protocol. "Based on Article 76 of Iran's safeguards agreement with the IAEA, the agency can request further inspection of the country's nuclear activities. So the protocol is not much different than the safeguards agreement," he said. 

That is why not implementing the Additional Protocol will not resolve any issues under the current circumstances, he added. 

 

Europe-US Gap

On whether Europe will eventually align itself with the US on Iran's nuclear issue, the analyst said Europe is stuck in a dilemma and do not know what to do.

The political expert said it is true that Europe and the US have strong differences over many issues but the Europeans are not expected to quit the painstakingly negotiated nuclear agreement—officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. 

"Europe, due to its proximity to the Middle East, is extremely worried about the security situation in West Asia. The Europeans believe that the collapse of JCPOA would increase tensions, conflicts and insecurity in the region," he said. 

In fact, they are taking "cautious" measures to prevent further instability in the Middle East and more tensions with the Trump administration, Qahremanpour said. 

President Hassan Rouhani has in the past predicted a "deluge" of drugs, refugees and attacks on the West, if US sanctions weaken the ability of Iran—which borders Afghanistan, the world's largest opium producer and Pakistan, a major transit country for drugs—to contain them.   

 

Un Iran security IAEA nuclear deal nuclear watchdog Benefit Additional Protocol ratification