On September 25th, the ambassadors from France, Germany, Britain and the EU stated that the Trump administration’s discomfort with the Iran nuclear deal is not accepted by them.
The terms of the agreement state that Iran will eliminate its stockpile of medium-enriched uranium, decrease its stockpile of low-enriched uranium by 98%, reduce the number of its gas centrifuges by about two-thirds for 13 years, and not build any new heavy-water facilities for the same period of time. Uranium-enrichment activities will be limited to a single facility using first-generation centrifuges for 10 years. For the next 15 years enriching uranium only up to 3.67% is permissible.
To make sure that Iran is compliant with the deal, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has regular access to all Iranian nuclear facilities. In exchange for that, Iran will get relief from economic sanctions from the U.S., the European Union and the United Nations Security Council nuclear-related economic sanctions.
The reason for that disagreement is the belief in the international community that Iran is holding up its end of the deal. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) confirmed last month for the eighth time that Iran has been compliant.
Another thing is the fact that the facilitation of that deal was a humongous labor that brought together unwilling partners, like Russia and China, and most importantly Iran itself.
Most countries involved believe any renegotiation and as a result, a more positive outcome of such ordeal is a bridge too far.
It’s also worth mentioning the trade deals that many countries have with Iran based on that agreement. The EU ambassador said that if sanctions are to be imposed, not only to Iran but to countries trading with Iran, the EU will make use of a mid 90s stature that would protect EU companies from penalization.
The EU ambassador to the United States David O’Sullivan stated that, “We have the blocking statute … which does offer legal protection to European companies which are threatened by the extraterritorial nature of U.S. sanctions in certain circumstances,” and added: “I have no doubt that if this scenario materializes, which it’s not clear it will, the European Union will act to protect the legitimate interests of our companies with all the means at our disposal.”
That puts the U.S. administration in a precarious position.
No one in the U.S. trades with Iran and thus sanctions imposed on U.S. companies on trade with Iran make no difference to Tehran. That means the U.S. will need the EU on the deal if Iran chooses to break away. The EU, on the other hand, needs evidence that Iran is not holding up its end of the agreement and faces a hard choice; to make a trusted ally like the U.S. unhappy, or lose face by backing away from an agreement without sufficient evidence.
These warnings from the U.S. allies came just before the 15th of October deadline by which President Trump must inform Congress if Iran is compliant with the agreement.
The state of Iran does not consist of boy scouts, far from it, as Iraq war veterans know better than anyone.
But pushing Iran needlessly is ill-advised. The modern era has eroded its regime’s grasp and that trend will continue even without the added conflict. There is no need to take added risks just to speed up a process that is already underway.
Featured image courtesy of Wikipedia