EghtesadOnline: Meetings between Iranian officials and the European Union foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, in Tehran on Feb. 3-4 showed that the European powers are open to waiting out US President Donald Trump’s first term in office before taking further action on the 2015 nuclear deal, a foreign policy expert said.
Hassan Beheshtipour said although France, Germany and Britain triggered the nuclear accord’s dispute resolution mechanism, Borrell’s optimistic approach toward disagreements shows that Europe is still in favor of negotiations, IRNA reported.
Months after the surprise election of Trump to the White House, the US unilaterally withdrew from the nuclear deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, and slapped sweeping sanctions on Tehran, according to Financial Tribune.
When Iran’s yearlong negotiations with Europe on fulfilling their economic obligations did not pan out in a desirable way, Tehran began to scale back on its commitments to the JCPOA.
Following Iran’s final step in cutting back on obligations, the European signatories to the deal launched its dispute resolution mechanism in mid-January. The process can lead to a decision to send Iran’s file to the United Nations Security Council where global sanctions could be reimposed on Tehran.
Beheshtipour sees Borrell’s optimism toward Iran and JCPOA as a positive sign that points to Europe’s determination not to give up on the landmark deal just yet.
Steering a Middle Course
Until the US presidential election, European powers aim to meet both Iran and the US halfway, taking an approach that is shy of repealing the agreement but taking some measures so as to not provoke the Americans, the expert added.
After meeting top officials in Tehran, Borrell held a press conference to announce that the European signatories agree on extending the timeframe of the dispute resolution mechanism.
The mechanism envisions referral of a dispute to the UNSC in as early as 35 days if the issue remains unresolved, a limit that has now been extended indefinitely by Europe in a show of support for Iran’s difficult situation.
Beheshtipour said although European powers and even China and Russia, the other signatories to the deal, are waiting for the outcome of the US election, Iran needs to prepare contingency plans in case of a Trump reelection.
"It is wrong to simply wait for the US presidential election since the chances of him being reelected are not low," he said.
The expert stressed that Tehran needs to continue cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency "under any circumstances" or it runs the risk of losing the support of China and Russia.
On Wednesday, IAEA announced that Iran has not taken further steps away from its commitment to JCPOA since January when Tehran declared that it would no longer abide by the limits on uranium enrichment dictated by the deal.